Devils Tower is a large rock formation in Wyoming. It is is a popular climbing location. More than 4,000 climbers visit each year. However, some tribes consider recreational climbing disrespectful to the sacred tower. Devils Tower is considered sacred by several native tribes, including the Lakota, Cheyenne and Crow, who each have legends about its history.Continue Reading
According to the National Park Service, more than 20 tribes have a spiritual connection to the Devils Tower or include it in their tribal legends. The tower has long, vertical ridges running its length from top to bottom. Several tribal legends attribute these ridges to the claws of a giant bear. Most tribes have their own names for the rock formation: the Lakota call it Mato Tipila, or Bear Lodge; the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes both call it Bear's Tipi; and the Kiowa call the tower Tso-aa, or Tree Rock.
Some members of these tribes consider recreational climbing as a desecration. To accommodate these long-held beliefs, the National Park Service started the Voluntary June Closure program. The NPS asks climbers to refrain from climbing Devils Tower in June, a month when many local tribal ceremonies occur. Though the program is voluntary and not all climbers participate, the NPS reports an 80 percent reduction in recreational climbing during June.Learn more about The West