We got up nice and early, packed ourselves lunch and then went exploring. It is really bizarre over here in that you could expericence a lot of the national parks without stepping outside your car, as scenic routs literally cut straight throught the park. We are undecided whether or not this takes away from the parks but they definitely make them much more accessible. They have even put an elevator in one of the caves so people don’t have to climb back up the stairs! But we wanted to dig a little deeper so we went on two hikes roughly two hours each. As most people don’t leave their cars we had the place to ourselves! The pine forests were beautiful, the smell of pine just so fresh. Those car fresheners really don’t do it justice! 😉 We managed to catch deer, prong horn, heaps of Bison and even a wood pecker!
The area that we are currently in is a sacred land for the American Indians. The history of the place is very tragic yet not an unfamiliar story to the Indigenous Australians. We went and visited a place called the wind cave and the Lakota people believe that they were born from this cave. When you near the entrance an amazing cool breeze gushes out from underneath the ground. For such a sacred place for their people it is very unassuming and if you didn’t know what you were looking for you would miss it. Compare that to say Bethlehem and it makes you think a little.
These lands were actually handed back to the Indians in a treaty after years of bloodshed and genocide but then gold was found and they were pushed further out into the less habituated area and their reservations were drastically cut in size. So the sacred wind caves are not even a part of their lands. The reservation right near here is actually the poorest county in America with over half of the population living below the poverty line.
We have met a man called Mike at our campsite who is a descendant of the Lakota and he makes a trip every year to the reservation for a Sundance. It is a ceremony that lasts for 10 days with four of those days without food or water. They perform a dance from sun up to sunset. From what we understand of it is a ceremony which gives back to the land for everything that was taken in the year. He was saying that a lot of the elders are dying and the traditions which are passed on by word are in threat of being lost. So he comes back with others to learn the traditions in order to pass them on to future generations.
He caught us off guard when he asked us if there were any prayers that we wanted him to share during the Sundance. Our looks of complete and utter blankness must have been classic! Very unspiritulised people here! S
Top of lovers leap. The story goes that two Native American lovers jumped to their death here. There is another leap right where my sister lives in North Queensland where a mother jumped with her baby after being chased. She died but her baby survived.
Me at the top of lovers leap