By Rhett Heide
What is Devils Tower?
The origins of Devils tower vary with different geologists. Many theories have been established over time, but the most asked question is how did it get to its present state: a large cylindrical rock that towers over Crook County. The geologist do agree on one thing though, it is made up of igneous rock. How is this, so many ask, because it is in a place where there aren't any nearby volcanoes.
This topic gives rise to many other theories regarding how the igneous rock got there. According to the National Parks Service, a 1907 study by scientists Nelson Horatio Darton and C.C. O'Hara theorized that Devils tower was formed when huge deposits of igneous rock were pushed to the surface by sedimentary rock. A laccolith, as geologists call it creates a bulge in the Earth that doesn't release molten rock.
Other theories go as far as to say that Devils Tower is the inside of a long gone volcano and the rest eroded away. To prove this geologists have surveyed the surrounding land. After long days outside the geologists have found evidence that the ground has been shaped and reshaped by erosion in that area for thousands of years, though now this theory has been disproved.
In addition some geographers even say that it didn't just rise up it's been there since the beginning, just the land has changed leaving the tower standing in its wake. As proof the geographers have also brought erosion into play, saying that water and wind have eroded the land and are still constantly chipping the rock away today.
As for the Native Americans, they had much different ideas at the time. Older tribes have created an array of ideas but all have one thing in common. Each tribe includes a bear making the gashes on the sides of the rock. The most common is the Lakota (Sioux) legend. They say that one day six sioux girls were picking flowers in the forest when some bears chased them to a clearing. As they ran, the girls prayed to the great spirit to save them. The great spirit answered by raising the ground beneath them. And so the story goes that the bears attempted to climb the tower to reach the girls and by doing so created the deep gouges in the rock.
Native American Coulture
The Native peoples have more than legends that attach them to the tower. Many tribes have been having sacred rituals there for thousands of years. Most Native tribes hunted in the area or collected food there. Amongst the tribes some even buried what they considered great culture heroes in the shadow of the tower. The Cheyenne a well known tribe in the area buried their culture hero Sweet Medicine, founder of the four sacred arrows, in the shadow of the mountain because of a belief that it was a holy place.
As stated by NationalParkService.Gov other rituals include "Prayer rituals to the Great Spirit, (including bundles of cloth and animal skins) sweatlodge ceremonies, (a steamed hut that was used for prayer) vision quests, and sun dances." All these practices are still practiced in the area today (except funerals).
Today's tribes argue with governmental officials on whether or not they should be able to own the land that they have considered sacred for hundreds of years.
Summing it up
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United States. National Park Service. "Devils Tower National Monument (U.S. National Park Service)." National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, 03 Dec. 2015. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.
"Devils Tower, An Evocative Setting For Many Types Of Experiences And Forms Of Expression." Devils Tower. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.
"Igneous Intrusion Towers Over Wyoming." Devils Tower. Media Spotlight National Geographic, n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2015
Chavis, Jason. "Facts on the Devils Tower in Wyoming." Traveltips.usatoday. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.
San Miguel, George L. "How Is Devils Tower a Sacred Site to American Indians." N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.
"First Stories." Devils Tower. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2015.
"14 Largest Monoliths in the World." Touropia.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2015.