We will travel in a motor coach, 65 miles, for about an hour to reach the Vore Buffalo Site in nearby Wyoming. Here we will take a short walk of less than 1/4 mile along a hardened path to the bottom of the pit. We will then return to the hotel with two stops at a Native religious site and a nearby military fort.
At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a freshly prepared breakfast buffet including choices like fresh fruit, an egg dish, assorted breakfast pastries, breads, meats, and potatoes, hot and cold cereals with toppings, plus a variety of juices, milk, coffee, tea, water.
This morning we'll begin to look at one of the primary ways Native people of the upper Great Plains killed bison, perhaps better known as Buffalo. We'll visit the Vore Buffalo Jump in nearby Wyoming, a sink hole at the rim of a natural canyon where the bison could be stampeded over the cliff by people on foot. Archaeologists and geologists tell us that the Vore site was used 22 times over a span of some 250 years from the mid-1500's to about 1800. It is the only buffalo jump site open to the public. With the arrival of horses and guns this method of killing bison was replaced with more efficient means. On the drive to the jump site we'll also learn about the race track and traditional native beliefs of how animals and all parts of nature interact. This introduction to native beliefs and their connection to the land is central to understanding many parts of the culture as we'll discover during the program.
We'll eat at a local restaurant today.
This afternoon we'll visit three very different sites. Bear Butte holds a special place in the hearts of many native tribes as a place of ceremonial significance. Colorful prayer packs and tobacco ties are hung on trees and shrubs here as sacred parts of religious practices. We will be respectful and not disturb any of them. During the program we'll also learn about Bear Butte as a meeting place for various tribes over centuries. The second historical site we'll visit is Fort Meade. Just two and a half miles from Bear Butte, the Fort was built in 1878-1879 to protect settlers and gold seekers during the turbulent years when whites and natives were struggling to resolve the problem of white settlers coming into Indian Territory. Fort Meade became the first permanent garrison of the recently defeated 7th Cavalry after the Battle of the Little Big Horn. With the juxtaposition of a military fort just a short distance from a native sacred site, we will end our afternoon with a short drive through the contemplative Black Hills National Cemetery. Here among the honored dead are two Native Lakota Code Talkers, the only two Lakota buried in National Cemeteries. John Bear King and Clarence Eugene Wolf Guts are each buried here and are two of the eleven Lakota who served with distinction in the Pacific. Lakota and other Native languages were so unknown around the world that Code Talkers are today well known among military historians for the significant part they played in support of the US military during WW II. The takeaway today is that just decades after Natives and the cavalry were in war against each other, the warrior spirit among Natives was so strong that it rose to support the nation when needed. Also interred here is Brigadier General Richard Ellsworth for which nearby Ellsworth Air Force Base is named. Never more than in death are we reminded that in service to our country we are all related.
This evening we'll hear from Whitney and Jessie Rencountre. Whitney is on the Board of Directors of the Black Hills Pow Wow and is a well know speaker and MC. He works with school age kids through Ateyapi, a Lakota word for Fatherhood. Ateyapi teaches success in school and how to follow positive life values without drugs or alcohol. His wife, Jessie, is a school counselor helping native kids deal with prejudice and discrimination. Jessie is the author of the book "Pet'a Shows Misun the Light", a book addressing the issue of "Why do people do hurtful things to others?" Together Whitney and Jessie will take us on a journey of cultural discovery. The Lakota culture is rich with significant life lessons placing great value on personal responsibility and respect for all living things. This evening's presentation will open the door for all of what we will learn and discuss during the program.