Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Black Hills - Deadwood, Crazy Horse

After resting for several days (and doing some schoolwork), we finally had enough energy to do some more sightseeing in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

On Friday, April 25th, the boys and I took a car trip one hour north through the Black Hills to the small "wild west" town of Deadwood.  This is the place that legends are made from.  Deadwood was a boom town that arose when gold was discovered in the Black Hills in the late 1800's.  The town was legendary for its lawlessness.

Several notorious persons came out of Deadwood, the most notable being Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok, who was shot in the back of the head while playing poker.  The hand he was holding became known as "Dead Man's Hand" -- a pair of black eights with a pair of black aces.  His murderer, Jack McCall, was tried and hanged in the Dakota Territory.  (Remember, the Black Hills weren't part of the Dakota Territory yet; it was part of the unceded Indian territory, the contentious area that General Custer fought for and lost in the Battle of Little Bighorn.)

We spent some time exploring the Adams Museum in Deadwood which showcased the history of the small town.  In it, we saw the pistol used to kill Wild Bill Hickok.

What a bonus!  In the museum, we also saw a display touting the independent spirit of the frontier homeschoolers!

Afterwards, we drove up and down the main street just to get a feel for the "Old West".

We bypassed the Mount Moriah Cemetery which is the final resting place of both Calamity Jame and Wild Bill Hickok because we were getting hungry and needed to find a place to eat.

After we finished exploring Deadwood, we drove to the Crazy Horse Memorial.  Crazy Horse was a Lakota Indian warrior who led a warring party of Oglala Lakota at the Battle of Little Bighorn.  Today he is being memorialized in a monolithic sculpture, much larger than Mount Rushmore, at Thunderhead Mountain.

The memorial is a work in progress.  Started in 1948 by a sculptor who worked on Mount Rushmore under the direction of Gutzon Borglum, Korczak Ziolkowski worked tirelessly on the monument until his death in 1982.  Today his family continues the tradition of sculpting the mountain, funded entirely by private donation and sales.

We spent about an hour or so exploring the museum which focuses on the history of the American Indian. It was quite interesting seeing just how many Native American tribes were represented.

Additionally, we had the pleasure of meeting a Lakota docent who dressed up my youngest boys in traditional attire and set them up for a picture with the monument in the background.

Another bonus!  While we were at the Crazy Horse Museum, we saw a painting of... a coach-and-six!