The Home of the Bison - Preface and Acknowledgments

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This report is a work in progress. The interpretations and conclusions are limited by the published and unpublished materials we reviewed and by the information the staff of various tribal cultural preservation offices shared with us. We are cognizant of the fact that some of what is written here might need to be clarified or changed through a more lengthy and involved consultation process with the tribal nations who have continuing and vested cultural interests in Wind Cave National Park.

We decided not to interview other members of each tribe because we believed that, as a matter of fairness, we needed to give equal consideration in our research effort to all of the tribal nations with a known history of occupancy in the area. Had we done so, it would have been an enormous undertaking and impossible within the time constraints of our contract.

We diligently searched the published historical and ethnographic record on each nation to ascertain the character and chronology of their affiliation to the Black Hills in general and Wind Cave National Park in particular. The bibliography to this work reveals only part of this effort: most of the references cited include only the ones actually cited in the report. Many others were studied, but they did not offer material that shed light on tribal relationships to the Hills.

As revealed in the report, the bulk of the cultural material relating to the Wind Cave National Park region of the Black Hills comes from the Lakotas and Cheyennes. This reflects the fact that they are the only two tribal nations on whom concrete information about beliefs and practices associated with the park were found.

Many of the beliefs and practices that both of these tribal nations attach to the area of Wind Cave National Park touch on the realm of the sacred. We have at all times approached this material with the respect it deserves, but we are aware that our understandings and interpretations only touch the surface of the rich and complex worldviews of the Lakotas and Cheyennes. We ask those much more knowledgeable than us to understand that we approached our studies in a heartfelt way and to take pity on our efforts if they do not reveal the full picture or misinterpret the meaning of certain stories and concepts.

Many people assisted in the production of this report, and all of them need to be acknowledged individually. Several undergraduate student majors in American Indian Studies, and two graduate students from the American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota worked on this report. Stacey Schlegel from American Indian Studies surveyed and reported on much of the historical and ethnographic literature relating to the Lakotas, Kiowas, Arikaras, Mandans, Hidatsas, Plains Apaches, Poncas, and Crows, and she assisted in the writing of Chapters Twelve and Thirteen. Christina Berndt, a graduate student from American Studies, researched the historic and ethnographic writings on the Cheyennes and Arapahos. Both of these students and Kim Rossina, also a graduate student in American Studies and now an instructor of Dakota culture and history in American Indian Studies, assisted in archival research at the South Dakota State Historical Society in Pierre, South Dakota. Finally, Andrea Yardley from American Indian Studies and now a student in the Law School at the University of Minnesota, gathered materials on Lakota cultural traditions relating to animals and also some of the information on the legal status of the lands that make up the Black Hills.

Yvonne Kelly and Elizabeth Brown of the American Indian Studies Department contributed to the report's editing. Yvonne Kelly, the department's Program Associate, also translated texts and words in Lakota with the assistance of the department's Dakota language instructor, Neil McKay, and with advice from native speakers, Glen Wasicuna and Jerry Dearly. Vanessa Kittelson, an undergraduate major in American Indian Studies and now a Research Assistant in the department and a graduate student in the School of Public Health, helped in conducting phone interviews with the staff of tribal cultural preservation offices. Finally, Anna Bendickson, a member of the department's office staff, assisted in the design of the cover page.

Dr. David Wilkins, Professor of American Indian Studies, Political Science, and the School of Law at the University of Minnesota, contributed his considerable expertise in reviewing and commenting on materials dealing with treaties and claims cases. Dr. David Martinez, who received his doctorate in philosophy and is now an Assistant Professor in American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota, read parts of the manuscript and gave us helpful comments on the sections that deal with cosmology and spirituality.

We have been in continuous communication with Dr. Linea Sundstrom, an archaeologist and a well known expert on the Black Hills. She assisted us in immeasurable ways and took the time to read drafts of some of the chapters, providing us with constructive advice on their contents. She has been a true colleague, sharing with good grace and humor her considerable knowledge about the area.

Drs. John Moore, Loretta Fowler, and Jeffery Anderson also need to be acknowledged for their helpful advice on the published and archival literatures dealing with the Cheyennes and Arapahos. In addition, Dr. Lawrence Loendorf needs acknowledgement for his helpful advice on conducting the research for this sort of study.

Helen Kopietz and Theresa Derner, staff members of the Department of American Indian Studies and the College of Liberal Arts, lent their technical support to the project in innumerable ways.

Michelle Watson, Mike Evans, Ruthann Knudson, Ron Terry, and Tom Farrell of the National Park Service also need to be thanked for their assistance at various stages in the research and writing of this report.

Finally, we wish to express our gratitude to the many people we interviewed from tribal cultural preservation and resources offices (listed in Appendix D) for their assistance and thoughtful answers to our questions about the nature of their tribal nation's cultural affiliations to Wind Cave National Park.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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