Bill Introduced To Prevent Devil’s Tower Name Change
Before Europeans ever came along that Amazing feature that we now call, "Devil's Tower," had changed ownership in bloody conflict and been renamed many times by North American tribes.
The tower has longstanding spiritual significance to approximately 20 Native American tribes who used to war over the land. Those tribes including the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Crow, and Lakota who had inhabited the area for nearly 1,000 years.
Over that time those tribes have named the tower many things, like Bear Lodge, Bear's House, Bear's Tipi, Bear Peak, and Bear’s Lair, among other names.
When the tribes of Europe formed the nation we now call The United States Of America, they became the latest to take control of that land and rename the tower.
We can at least give the white man credit for allowing all tribes to come and visit the tower at an time. Since the land is seen as sacred ground by Native tribes the white man asks that people do not touch the items left by those who come to pray.
Some time around 1875, this place was renamed, again, as Devil’s Tower by a group of explorers led by Colonel Richard Irving Dodge, who wrote that "the Indians call this place 'bad god's tower.” In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed legislation officially making the new name, “Devil’s Tower.” Many believe the name came about as a result of a bad translation.
But Indigenous tribes were not happy with that name.
Since the 1991's the National Congress of American Indians have pushed for the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to rename the tower several times.
“Indigenous people have for over a century repeatedly stated that the 1906 ‘Devils Tower’ name is not the correct translation of the rock’s name and that the Devils Tower name is offensive, insulting, and disparaging because it equates Indigenous cultural and faith traditions practiced at this site to ‘devil worship,’ in essence equating Indigenous people to ‘devils,’” an NCAI resolution from 2014 states. (Billing's Gazette).
The fight over the name of the tower continues on to this day.
Wyoming Sen. Cynthia Lummis has introduced a bill to permanently protect the name of Devils Tower National Monument, in the hopes of preventing it from ever being changed again, Senator John Barrasso is a co-sponsor.