Devils Tower

By Rhett Heide

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What is Devils Tower?

Devils Tower is a grand geological feature to the hilly land of Crook County, Wyoming. It can be seen from miles away due to its large scale and the flatness of the area. It rises 5112 feet above sea level and stretches over 1000 feet wide. Popularity over the tower has continued to grow through the years bringing debates between the Native peoples and the government. The structure itself allures people to it, but the strange beliefs regarding its origins draws thousands to gawk at its majesty, and because of this the tower is a feat that is both political and personal regarding the Native Americans of the land.
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Many Theories

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.

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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.

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Political Showings

In more recent news tribes such as the Lakota or more widely known as the Sioux, and Crow are upset that every year hundreds if not thousands of climbers and tourists invade their sacred land and climb on the history of their culture. And as a result of this other political battles have sprung on whether or not the Native Americans should own the land.
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Summing it up

All in all since the Devils tower was declared the first National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, there has been over 4000 visitors each year and many fun and exciting attractions hosted by the Natives and people in the area. Because of its historical history and mythical origins it is still a popular tourist location for modern day people. Just remember to keep in mind of its native culture.

Work Cited

"Facts on the Devils Tower in Wyoming." Travel Tips. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.

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." N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2015.