The next area visited on my pilgrimage was Keystone in the Black Hills near Mt. Rushmore. A visit to Mt. Rushmore was not on our to-see list! The monument is a painful reminder to the Lakota people that the sacred land was promised to the Lakota in perpetuity in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 but taken from them when gold was found and prospectors migrated there in the 1870’s. The Act of 1877 was another breach of the Fort Laramie Treaty as a Congressional Act forced Indians onto reservations and the U.S. federal government took ownership of the Black Hills.
Mt. Rushmore celebrates presidents involved in the moving and appropriation of Indian land. Before it was Mt Rushmore it was the Six Grandfathers, named by Lakota medicine man Nicholas Black Elk after a vision. The vision was of the six sacred directions: west, east, north, south, above and below. The directions were said to represent kindness and love, full of years and wisdom, like human grandfathers. The granite bluff that towered above the Black Hills remained carved by only the wind and the rain until 1927 when Gutzon Borglum began his assault on the mountain. As we were leaving the Black Hills we hoped to pull over to a stop that afforded a view of the monument but it was completely fogged in. Apparently the Indian spirits did not wish for us to look upon the faces but instead envision it as it should be.