Devil’s Tower should be renamed, tribes say

Mount McKinley is now Denali again, Lake Calhoun is on its way to becoming Bde Maka Ska (over the objections of some), now what about this?

Some politicians are rushing to pass legislation that would prohibit the renaming of Devil’s Tower, according to Forum News Service.

Chief Arvol Looking Horse, spiritual leader of the Great Sioux Nation, says the tower’s name is offensive, suggesting that Indian religious rituals at the foot of the tower in the Black Hills were forms of devil worship.

Looking Horse has asked that it be renamed Bear Lodge, after the title of a nearby national forest.

Wyoming politicians are pushing back, floating a bill in Congress to block a name change.

“I think it’s important to folks to consider the idea if people called churches a place of devil worship, I think people would be very concerned,” Cheyenne resident Affie Ellis told the Casper Star Tribune.

But this is different than Denali, The Ranger newspaper says.

First, there is no widespread recognition of any other name. Some sentiment exists for the name Bear Lodge, but others historicaly have referred to the bizarre rock outcropping as Gray Horn, Grizzly’s Teepee, Tree Rock and Home of the Bear, among several others. Each name has its reverent supporters.

In Alaska, by contrast, Mt. McKinley already was called Denali by almost everyone there, regardless of race, tribe or political affiliation. It was a matter of state pride. No such strong allegiance to anything other than Devils Tower exists in Wyoming. In Alaska – and the rest of the nation, for that matter – if you heard the name Denali, you probably knew what it was. Mention “Bear Lodge” in Wyoming or anywhere else, and few people will know what you mean.
Alaskans not only accepted the name change at the federal level, they welcomed it – including the congressional delegation and governor there. That kind of consensus is lacking in Wyoming.

Second, the bear lodge legend and accompanying tribal traditions already are embraced at Devils Tower, lovingly so. Any visitor to the monument hears the story and sees the artistic renditions of it. Accounts of the giant bear clawing at the rock, leaving the distinctive grooves in the tower, is a colorful part of the visitor experience. The story isn’t just acknowledged, it is celebrated.

The bill in Congress won’t get a hearing until next year.