The Home of the Bison - Beginning a New Cycle

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Wind Cave National Park is located on land that has important and unique geological, zoological, and botanical features, but it also has significant historical and cultural properties. Much of the purpose of this report is to document American Indian historical and cultural affiliations to the park, but it also includes materials on European Americans who settled on or visited the lands that now make up the park. In the conclusion to the report, Chapter Sixteen (pp. 623-653), additional recommendations are made on how the park might to take further steps to acknowledge, and where appropriate, accommodate the various cultural interests that surround it.

It must be emphasized that the following report offers a broad overview of the park's human history and its significant cultural properties. It represents a work in progress towards a much richer and more detailed representation of the park's cultural importance. Much more work needs to be done to respectfully engage and involve local tribes in protecting the cultural properties that are so important to them and in establishing guidelines for access to them. Also, a much greater effort needs to be given towards creating a more comprehensive storyline for the park's inter-pretive programming, one that acknowledges and includes the perspectives of the tribal nations with long-standing and continuing interests in the park and the lands that surround it. These efforts can only enrich the park and help build an appreciation for all of its visitors, including the many American Indian people who visit it each year.

Finally, nothing contained in this report should be construed as a complete or exhaustive pic-ture of the subjects it covers. Some of the tribal knowledge about the park is privileged infor-mation and can never be included in public documents such as this one. In building a more culturally comprehensive and diverse understanding of the park, its landforms, landscapes, natural resources, and history, a delicate line must always be maintained between what is confidential and restricted and what is open and accessible to wider public audiences. Moving in the direction of a more inclusive storyline for the park will not be easy, but it's well worth the effort because of the compelling nature of the cultural history that surrounds this area. As the park celebrates its first century, it will hopefully use this milestone as an opportunity to think about ways it can include and accommodate the knowledge and interests of all its constituents, including the peoples who were its original inhabitants and users.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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