The Black Hills have a soft, steady drumbeat. It is welcoming and beckoning you to enter deeper in to the pines. The drumbeat ushers you in to the soul of the Black Hills, the sacred ground of the Indians.The Black Hills do not compete with the grander peaks farther West, but they have a soft serenity of their own. As you quietly enter Spearfish Canyon in the Northern Black Hills, your reverence for these hills will quickly be drawn to the surface. Enjoying rocky cliffs, the defined chasm with Spearfish Creek at its base, pine scents, soaring eagles, working beavers, waterfalls and trout streams, it is evident why the Indians so highly valued this area.
Can you find the trout in the water above?
The Indians chose the Black Hills as their last stronghold when forced on to reservations. The Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868, guaranteed them the Black Hills area, but this only lasted until gold was found. The Black Hills Gold Rush began in 1874 after General Custer’s Black Hills Expedition. After unsuccessfully offering to buy the Black Hills from the Indians, the government allowed settlers to move in to the area. These conflicts precipitated the Great Sioux War, leading to Custer’s defeat at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. The Great Sioux War ended a year later with the remaining Sioux and Cheyenne surrendering or fleeing to Canada.
The final routing of these Indians silenced the drumbeat in these hills. But, reader, in Spearfish Canyon, I can still feel it.
I have not seen it in years, but Dances with Wolves was filmed in the Black Hills. If you want to feel the singularity here, try the movie. It will also aid you in feeling that lost drumbeat, if I remember correctly. We will be re-watching it soon to perpetuate our deep admiration for the Black Hills.