National Park Service



Date of this Version



U.S. National Park Service


The Black Hills has long been written about as a place of great beauty and striking topo-graphy. Some of the earliest European Americans (Hughes, R. 1957:13; Dodge 1965:25, 49, 149-150; McLaird and Turchen 1974c:296-297; Knappen in Kraus and Olson 1974:23) who traveled the area and wrote about it were struck by the contrast the Hills environment made to the dryness and barrenness of the surrounding prairies and sagebrush steppes. The virtues of the Hills were even extolled in a spiritually inspiring language, with expressions like ―these sacred fastnesses," (Dodge 1965:150), "earthly paradise" (Curtis in Krause and Olson 1974:149), or an "Eden in the clouds" (Burrows in Krause and Olson 1974:208). Although many early writers attributed their beauty and magnificence to some divine intervention, few perceived them as a foundation of their own religiosity.