MATO TIPILA - DEVIL’S TOWER
Native American star knowledge teaches the concept that what is on earth is merely the reflection of the real world in the sky; sites that are important within the Lakota world are directly related to constellations. Convene with your Lakota guide at one of the most sacred of those earthly venues; Mato Tipila (Devils’ Tower) to learn that this is not simply an giant, awe-inspiring obelisk of granite jutting forth from the ground for the benefit of rock climbers – this place has deep spiritual significance and historical record to seven different Plains cultures. And as you walk the circle in the shadow of the Great Bear who created the defining features rising before you, ancient knowledge supersedes modern science and the ethereal transcends the literal.
•Hear the tribal explanations of the Lakota, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Shoshone, Arapaho, Crow and Pawnee. •Learn of the history of this area as a Sun Dance site •Among the grassy meadows of this idyllic venue, hear the story of the Racetrack and understand the true relationship, and the compact of survival between the buffalo and the People. •Listen to the earthy wood wind tones of the Native American Flute.
THE MEDICINE WHEEL
The sacred reality of the stone Spirit Wheel high above the Bighorn Basin on Medicine Mountain began with the wisdom of one man who carried a spirit wheel lance in 500 BC and led his people from the darkness to the light. Thirteen hundred and eighty six years later, the so-called Great Sioux War began in 1876 with a surprise attack on a predominantly Cheyenne village on the Powder River. Old Brave Wolf was blind, and his daughter, Elbow Woman, sat him upon a horse she then led from the village on a rein. The three made conspicuous targets, but though bullets whined and crackled around them, they walked away unscathed. Across his lap Old Brave Wolf had rested his spirit wheel lance, which became his eyes in that darkness and rendered the soldiers sightless. The spirit in the wheel was alive and long since had been called into the wheel.
- Atop Medicine Mountain in the Bighorns we discover the stone-formed Medicine Wheel.
- We discuss the Massaum Ceremony, “the Medicine Dance of the Ancients,” in which the wolf, and the “Wolf’s Lodge,” is essential to creation, to life, and renewal in the spiritual and physical.
- This day involves some walking – please wear comfy shoes and take water.
The spectacular Bighorn Canyon is an important cultural site for the Crow and Cheyenne, as well as a breathtaking natural wonder. Wild Mustangs range in the Prior Mountains that shadow the canyon, the descendants of Crow and Cheyenne pony herds from the old days and among their number bays, sorrels, along with some grays, roans and pintos, roam the range, their distinctive ‘primitive’ markings including a stripe running down the back, or "zebra" stripes on the legs, differentiating them as member of the tribal Horse Nation.
- We go in search of these mustangs, survivors from the Horse Nation's proudest days.
- Hear stories of Crazy Horse’s skill capturing wild horses, of the relationships between warriors and their mounts and of equine valor beyond imagination in the face of war, where army was pitted against family.
- In 1970 Congress declared the mustangs “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West”. Learn of the ongoing fate of these magnicent four-leggeds as you watch them in their most natural of habitats in the West.
Also in Wyoming:
Yellowstone National Park via the East Entrance at Cody, WY
If you were to believe anthropologist's opinions about the place of Native People in the Yellowstone region, you would imagine tribal people cowering from the geothermal features that they are supposed to have been scared of. But not so. Native people respected and revered this area which long before the discovery of the Caldera, they knew creation was still an on-going process.
In Yellowstone, the wolves are the rock stars of the park. But how much do you know about their place in Native American tribal culture and the Meaning of the Wolf to Plains Indians?
In Yellowstone there are about 150 grizzly bears remaining in the wild and maybe 650 in the Greater Yellowstone region. These elusive four-leggeds taught The People about wisdom, strength, healing and tenacity. With your guide, a world-class wildlife photographer, go in search of the Spirit of the Grizzly
Nearby In Montana
THE NORTHERN CHEYENNE INDIAN RESERVATION
Following the so-called Indian Wars, the Northern Cheyenne were sent to Oklahoma to join their southern relatives, but the hot, humid climate of ‘Indian Territory’ did not suit them at all - the people got sick and were dying in terrible numbers. In desperation, a small band left and headed back up north to their traditional lands, an odyssey of sheer determination and incredible courage, now known as the Cheyenne Exodus, and the US government finally gave them their own reservation. The Cheyenne culture is complex, deeply spiritual and beautiful, the Tsistsistas language is still spoken, and traditional people have retained their ways. Formerly named the Tongue River Indian Reservation, the 707 square miles of what nearly 5000 residents call ‘God’s Country’ is the home of the Tsistsistas – the Morning Star People, or the Northern Cheyenne. Options for visits to the reservation include:
•A historical buffalo jump, where as part of the pact between the two and four-legged the buffalo sacrificed themselves that the People might live and be sustained. •Hearing the stories of the Exodus and paying your respects at burial sites of venerated chiefs Two Moons or Little Wolf. •See the historic old Indian Agency then the modern Tribal Government building and learning about the Cheyenne systems of traditional versus BIA Indian governance, visit St Labre – the mission school, and other tribal galleries/trading posts to view and buy locally made arts. •The Deer Medicine Rocks – the site of Sitting Bull’s vision prior to the Battle of the Little Bighorn where he saw the soldiers falling down into camp upside down, with no ears – signifying they had not listened to warnings and thus they would bring downfall upon themselves.
SEE THE NORTHERN CHEYENNE RESERVATION ON HORSEBACK
Here is an unmissable opportunity to see the reservation the old way – on horseback - with one of the best wranglers in Montana doubling as your historian and ethno-botanist. Take a day to ride into the reservation hills. Horse owners, bring your own mounts, or enthusiasts, your wrangler has great horses available for your ride. Inexperienced ? You can still ride, but for your comfort, we recommend a 1/2 day
- Learn about how the reservation came about
- Hear the stories of life in the old days
- Learn about the healing plants and natural growing traditional foods used by Cheyenne Indians.
- See for yourself how life has changed for the Tsistsistas – the Northern Cheyenne.
Also In Montana:
We offer the very best Little Bighorn tours
Your tribal guide is well versed in military historical perspective on the Little Bighorn, but combine his detailed knowledge of the Cheyenne and Lakota tribal military actions on the Little Bighorn battlefield on June 25th, 1864, and you are in great hands if you want to learn the truth of what happened.
Stare across the field and from Crazy Horse's eye view imagine the actions of the Lakota and Cheyenne warriors as they defended their way of life in one magnificent last victory ...with cataclysmic results that reverberated throughout tribal cultures across the West.
Visit one of the most important cultural and historic sites on the Northern Plains where the Great Sundance was held at the Deer Medicine Rocks just days before the impending Little Bighorn Battle.
As dusk fell on June 16, the forces that would converge on the Rosebud were only thirty miles apart, but in philosophy and origin were separated by an ocean. Hear the story of the Fight Where the Girl Saved Her Brother; an event of cultural magnitude and inspiration which still resonates in the present day culture of the Cheyenne people.