Passing by History in Siouxland, Spirit Mound, South Dakota

8 Sep

Returning from a trip in South Dakota, I passed by an attraction that I had mostly forgotten about, not having visited it in a few years, Spirit Mound in South Dakota. To native Americans during the Lewis and Clark expedition, the mound was a sacred place where spirits would kill visitors according to a legend. Not being aware of this, or maybe ignoring it, the some of the expedition climbed the hill and took in the surrounding view. And were awed by what they saw. A quote from the Spirit Mound website says, ” (William) Clark wrote: “from the top of this Mound we beheld a most butifull landscape; Numerous herds of buffalow were Seen feeding in various directions, the Plain to the N. W & N E extends without interuption as far as Can be Seen- … no woods except on the Missouri Points…if all the timber which is on the Stone Creek [Vermillion River] was on 100 a[c]res it would not be thickly timbered, the Soil of those Plains are delightfull.”

Clark also wrote, “Capt Lewis and my Self Concluded to visit a High Hill Situated in an emence Plain three Leagues N. 20º W. from the mouth of White Stone river, this hill appear to be of a Conic form and by all the different Nations in this quater is Supposed to be a place of Deavels or that they are in human form with remarkable large heads and about 18 inches high; that they are very watchfull and ar armed with Sharp arrows with which they can kill at a great distance; they are said to kill all persons who are so hardy as to attemp to approach the hill; they state that tradition informs them than many indians have suffered by these little people and among others that three Maha men fell a sacrefice to their murcyless fury not meany years since- so much do the Mahas Souix Ottoes and other neibhbouring nations believe this fable that no consideration is sufficient to induce them to approach this hill.”

It is easy to forget about history that surrounds us. Even in close proximity that is forgotten simply because life compels us on to other needs or destinations. But it is always good to take a moment and remember and revel in what came before.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Spirit Mound, SD, Monday, August 29, 2016, which the Lewis and Clark Expedition visited as they mapped the West.       (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Spirit Mound, SD, Monday, August 29, 2016, which the Lewis and Clark Expedition visited as they mapped the West. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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