The Hilltop

Prairie grasslands with Ponderosa Pines in the distance
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NPS Photo/Adam Gericke

Area Description: When looking east towards Buffalo Gap, you can almost hear the thundering hooves and see the dust cloud kicked up from the massive bison herds of yonder year. Following soon thereafter would come any number of American Indian tribes that called the Black Hills home. Bison provided food, shelter, clothing, sacred objects and essential tools for their survival.

Visible Vegetation: Prairie Rose, Fringed Sagewort, Woolly Cinquefoil, Skunkbush Sumac, Needle and Thread Grass

Possible Animal Habitat:

Mammals: Elk, Porcupine, Mule Deer, White-tailed Deer, Cottontail Rabbit, Striped Skunk, Common Raccoon, Coyote, Mountain Lion, Bobcat, Red Squirrel, Prairie Vole,

Birds: Mourning Dove, Red-headed Woodpecker, American Robin, Spotted Towhee, Western Meadowlark, Brewer’s Blackbird

Geology: Scatted around the ground are lots of examples of chert.

For Educators:

Thematic Information: Up on this bluff, the ground is littered with pieces of chert. Often Native Americans would use places similar to this as a spot to work on arrowheads and other tools. Chert was a material that was often used because of the strength and how easy it was to shape. One can almost imagine a group of Native Americans maintain vigilance while knapping or making arrowheads. In this area of the park there is also a lot of teepee rings. These are a ring of stones use to support the teepee poles.

Recommended Student Activity:

Show pictures of Lakota artifacts including arrowheads.

Show pictures of teepee rings.

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Last updated: September 22, 2016

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Hot Springs, SD 57747


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