The Home of the Bison - Resources and Their Protection - Plants
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2) Plants: The Black Hills have long been associated with plant collection (pp. 391-397) Indeed, the plants that grow in this area are believed to have more potency because of their association with the spiritual forces that live in the Hills and that govern the tiers, directions, and/or elements of the universe. Wind Cave National Park contains a host of plants important as food and medicine, in veterinary practice and in manufacturing, and with spiritual and symbolic significance. Again, although most of the plants that grow on park properties can be found at other locations in the Black Hills and on the surrounding prairies, their association with Wind Cave and the Race Track makes them especially potent and powerful.
The cultural resource officers with whom we spoke to singled out kinnikinick and sage as especially important (pp. 394, 645). Both of these plants are important traditional cultural properties, and they occupy a central place in the healing and ceremonial traditions of the Cheyennes, Arapahos, and Lakotas (pp. 392, 394, 408-419, 428-429, 436-437, 821-823, 906-907, 917-918). Leaves from both plants can be taken without destroying the resource. Other plants have importance too, but these may be difficult to identify in association with the park for two reasons. First, in general terms, tribal healers are reluctant to talk about and identify the sources of their medicine. This is considered privileged information, which is not even shared with fellow tribal members. Second, people are hesitant to talk about the locations where they gather plants for fear that divulging such information will lead to restrictions on future access, especially in areas like national parks where most forms of plant collection are prohibited (pp. 398-399). This is an area of consultation that will require special sensitivity and forbearance. Listed below are some of the plants inside park boundaries that are associated with traditional cultural uses and meanings. Again, more detailed descriptions on these and other plants are found in Appendix B and Chapter Eleven (pp. 400-439).
Table B. Summary of Faunal Cultural Properties Historically Associated with Wind Cave National Park and Used By the Lakotas and Cheyennes
Did You Know?
Winds caused by changes in barometric pressure are what give Wind Cave its name. These winds have been measured at the cave's walk-in entrance at over 70 mph. The winds at the natural entrance of the cave attracted the attention of Native Americans and early settlers.