May 27th --Black Hills, South Dakota--
Black Hills in South Dakota has a lot of treasures to see. But this is the place of tragedy. In 1868, American Government signed a treaty say, "As long as rivers run and grass grows and trees bear leaves, Paha Sapa - the Black Hills of Dakota - will forever be the sacred land of the Sioux Indians." But in 1874 gold mine was found here and Americans tried to get rid of Native Americans from this place and a war took place. Crazy Horse was a leader of the battle in 1876. He fought against Custer's corps and led Indians victory. This was the beginning of tragedy and I felt this conflict still exists now. Anyway I chose to visit The Mammoth Site, the Wind Cave NP, The Crazy Horse Memorial, and the Mount Rushmore from many points of interest.
First I visited The Mammoth Site, which was just next to the motel I stayed. This is a great fossil museum. There found many fossils of mammoth which had died in a spring-fed sinkhole. They dug many bones and fossils and made a large hall to cover the place. The hall looks like a gymnasium but there are no floor but soil with many bones and fossils. It was really amazing to see many bones on the soil.
Then I drove a little bit to the Wind Cave National Park. This place is made of lime stones and there are many many caves in Black Hills. I joined a guided tour. A guide was cheerful and talkative. He explained that the cave is still under exploration. The map of the cave was really complicated, just like a pasta on a plate. Inside the cave, we saw a ceiling with boxed structure. The place was called Post Office. We also saw a place where layered rocks had fell off. This tour was really different from what's in other National Parks.
I drove north to the Crazy Horse, but I was so tired from yesterday's long drive that I couldn't drive more. I went into a small path and parked under a shade. I took a nap for about 1 hour. Although I was still tired, I went to the Crazy Horse Memorial. Actually this monument is still under construction but the idea of huge sculpture and the soul of creators attract many people. Needless to say, but this is made by Native Americans for their memorial to their hero. They are self supported mainly by the entrance fee. There are a visitor facility and an Indian Museum, too. At the entrance I was asked, "Are you Native?" I answered no. But I was a little bit happy with that because the way he asked was very familiar. Of course, this shows a typical racial discrimination but considering the American history, I can't help feeling sympathetic to Native Americans. The scaled model looked brave and I felt the soul of Native Americans. I really wanted to see it again when completed.
If you want to follow the history, it is wrong to visit the Mount Rushmore after the Crazy Horse. This is one of the most famous monuments in the world, I think. There are faces of George Washington, Thomas Jeffeson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt on a large rock in Black Hills. They are the leaders who brought the country from colonial times into the 20th century. Unfortunately, they all face to the east so I couldn't get a good view in the evening. I took some pictures and visited the exhibition. It was very good to review the American history. But after visiting this place, praising the leaders of America showily, I got strongly confident why Native Americans decided to invite the sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski to create the Crazy Horse monument.
I checked in a motel at Keystone, just 10 minutes drive from the ount Rushmore because I wanted to see the Mount Rushmore again in the morning sun. One surprising thing about the Mount Rushmore is that the parking admission is valid for one year.
Mammoth bones in The Mammoth Site
The hole which first explorer entered
Fine structures on the ceiling of Post Office
The Crazy Horse monument and the scaled model
Closer look of the Crazy Horse
The Mount Rushmore National Memorial
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