Who has the Right to Devils Tower?
Devils Tower. It’s a place full of controversy, wonder and adventure. It was named the first national monument by President Roosevelt. But who does it belong to? The Native Americans’ or those who come to the national park for a taste of nature?
To the Lakota Sioux, the monument is their church. It’s religious ground full of ceremonies and stories. There is a Native American story of how Devils Tower came to be.
Long ago there was a family. There were seven sisters and one brother. One day the brother turned into a great bear. He started chasing the sisters. To escape the bear, the sisters climbed a tree. Taking pity on the sisters, the tree began to grow to help them escape the bear. As the tree grew, the bear scratched at its trunk trying to get at the sisters. But the tree grew higher to escape the bear. It grew so large that the sisters reached the sky and became the stars in the big dipper.
The Native Americans have asked that the park not allow rock-climbers during the month of June when most of their religious ceremonies are practiced. Constitutionally they have the right to practice their religion. However, sight seers argue that they too have the right to the tower.
Rock-climbers say they should be allowed to scale the monument whenever they want. Nature fanatics from all over the country come to see the beautiful scenery Devils Tower has to offer. Constitutionally, they too have a right to the public land. It cannot be closed to everyone except certain races or religions
So how does the park feel about the land dispute? They have decided not to close the park, installing a voluntary ban on the tower during the month of June instead. All climbers are informed of its religious significance to the Native Americans and asked to stay away from the landmark during that time. However, the park will not force anyone that wants to climb, to stay away. It has worked so far, causing an 83% drop in climbers during...