|Orogeny||Trans-Hudson and Laramide|
|Age of rock||Precambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, Cenozoic and Tertiary|
|Type of rock||Shale, sandstone, limestone, slate, quartzite and granite|
|Southwestern South Dakota|
|Geologic and natural history|
|Forests and wildernesses|
The Black Hills is an isolated mountain range rising from the Great Plains of North America in western South Dakota and extending into Wyoming, United States. Black Elk Peak (formerly known as Harney Peak), which rises to 7,244 feet (2,208 m), is the range's highest summit. The Black Hills encompass the Black Hills National Forest. The name of the hills in Lakota is Pahá Sápa. The Black Hills are considered a holy site. The hills are so called because of their dark appearance from a distance, as they are covered in evergreen trees.
As the economy of the Black Hills has shifted away from natural resources (mining and timber) since the late 20th century, the hospitality and tourism industries have grown to take its place. Locals tend to divide the Black Hills into two areas: "The Southern Hills" and "The Northern Hills." The Southern Hills is home to Mount Rushmore, Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, Black Elk Peak (the highest point in the United States east of the Rockies, formerly and still more commonly known as Harney Peak), Custer State Park (the largest state park in South Dakota), the Crazy Horse Memorial, and The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, the world's largest mammoth research facility.
Attractions in the Northern Hills include
Although the written history of the region begins with the Sioux domination of the land over the native Arikara tribes, researchers have carbon-dating and stratigraphic records to analyze the early history of the area. Scientists have been able to utilize carbon-dating to evaluate the age of tools found in the area, which indicate a human presence that dates as far back as 11,500 BC with the Clovis culture. Stratigraphic records indicate environmental changes in the land, such as flood and drought patterns. For example, large-scale flooding of the Black Hill basins occurs at a probability rate of 0.01, making such floods occur once in every 100 years. However, during The Medieval Climate Anomaly, or the Medieval Warm Period, flooding increased in the basins. A stratigraphic record of the area shows that during these 400 years, thirteen 100-year floods occurred in four of the region's basins, while the same four basins from the previous 800 years only experienced nine floods.
Early-Modern human activity
François and Louis de La Vérendrye probably traveled near the Black Hills in 1743. Fur trappers and traders had some dealings with the Native Americans.
European Americans increasingly encroached on Lakota territory. In order to secure safe passage of settlers on the Oregon Trail, and to end intertribal warfare, the United States government proposed the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, which established the Great Sioux Reservation west of the Missouri River and acknowledged indigenous control of the Black Hills. The treaty protected the Black Hills "forever" from European-American settlement. Both the Sioux and Cheyenne also claimed rights to the land, saying that their cultures considered it the axis mundi, or sacred center of the world.
Although rumors of
During the 1875–1878 gold rush thousands of miners went to the Black Hills; in 1880, the area was the most densely populated part of the Dakota Territory. Three large towns developed in the Northern Hills: Deadwood, Central City, and Lead. Around these clustered groups of smaller gold camps, towns, and villages. Hill City and Custer City sprang up in the Southern Hills. Railroads were quickly constructed to the previously remote area. From 1880 onwards the gold mines yielded about $4,000,000 annually, and the silver mines about $3,000,000 annually.
American conquest of the Black Hills
The conflict over control of the region sparked the
20th-century land claims
On July 23, 1980, in United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Black Hills were illegally taken by the federal government and ordered remuneration of the initial offering price plus interest, nearly $106 million. The Lakota refused the settlement, as they wanted the Black Hills returned to them. The money remains in an interest-bearing account, which, as of 2015, amounts to over $1.2 billion, but the Lakota still refuse to take the money. They believe that accepting the settlement would allow the US government to justify taking ownership of the Black Hills.
On January 15, 2013, the U.S. responded, telling Anaya that it "understands several tribes purchased the Pe' Sla sacred site around November 30, 2012" meaning the Pe' Sla is officially Sioux land. After 2,022 acres of Pe' Sla (Reynolds Prairie) were granted Federal Indian trust status by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in March 2016, the Shakopee Mdewakanton tribe released a statement acknowledging the 2012 land purchase of 1,940 acres of Pe' Sla and also stated that this purchase was the result of a joint effort by the Rosebud, Shakopee Mdewakanton, Crow Creek, and Standing Rock Sioux Tribes. In March 2017, Pennington County agreed to abandon its claim to the Pe' Sla area and recognize its Federal Indian trust status. In 2016, the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe of Oklahoma, the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of Montana and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota bought land near the sacred Bear Butte site for $1.1 million. In 2018, the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of Montana and the Arapahoe Tribe of Oklahoma teamed together to purchase land near Bear Butte for $2.3 million.
The 'bull's eye' of this target is called the granite core. The granite of the Black Hills was emplaced by magma generated during the Trans-Hudson orogeny and contains abundant pegmatite. The core of the Black Hills has been dated to 1.8 billion years. Other localized deposits have been dated to around 2.2 to 2.8 billion years. One of these is located in the northern hills. It is called French Creek Granite although it has been metamorphosed into gneiss. The other is called the Bear Mountain complex, and it is located in the west-central part of the hills.
"Making a concentric ring around the core is the
The final layers of the Black Hills consist of sedimentary rocks. The oldest lie on top of the metamorphic layers at a much shallower angle. This rock called the
The next rock layer, the Spearfish Formation, forms a valley around the hills called the Red Valley and is often referred to as the Race Track. It is mostly red shale with beds of gypsum, and circles much of the Black Hills. These shale and gypsum beds, as well as the nearby limestone beds of the Minnekahta, are used in the manufacture of cement at a cement plant in Rapid City. Next is the shale and sandstone Sundance Formation, which is topped by the Morrison Formation and the Unkpapa sandstone.
The outermost feature of the dome stands out as a hogback ridge. The ridge is made out of the Lakota Formation and the Fallriver sandstone, which are collectively called the Inyan Kara Group. Above this, the layers of rocks are less distinct and are all mainly grey shale with three exceptions: the Newcastle sandstone; the Greenhorn limestone, which contains many shark teeth fossils; and the Niobrara Formation, which is composed mainly of chalk. These outer ridges are called cuestas.
The Black Hills also has a 'skirt' of gravel covering them in areas, which are called pediments. Formed as the waterways cut down into the uplifting hills, they represent the former locations of today's rivers. These beds are generally around 10,000 years old or younger, judging by the artifacts and fossils found. A few places, mainly in the high elevations, are older, as old as 20 million years, according to camel and rodent fossils found. Some gravels have been found but for the most part, these older beds have been eroded.
As with the geology, the biology of the Black Hills is complex. Most of the Hills are a fire-climax
Wildlife is both diverse and plentiful. Black Hills creeks are known for their trout, while the forests and grasslands offer good habitat for
Regions of the Black Hills
The northern Black Hills approximate Lawrence and Meade Counties and are roughly equivalent to the Northern Hills District of the Black Hills National Forest. The central Black Hills (the Mystic District of the Black Hills National Forest) are located in Pennington County west of Rapid City. The southern Black Hills are in Custer and Fall River Counties and are administered in the national forest's Hell Canyon District. Finally, Wyoming's Black Hills follow the Bearlodge District, approximately Weston and Crook Counties.
Geologically separate from the Black Hills are the Elk Mountains, a small range forming the southwest portion of the region.
Tourism and economy
The region is home to
The George S. Mickelson Trail is a recently opened multi-use path through the Black Hills that follows the abandoned track of the historic railroad route from Edgemont to Deadwood. The train used to be the only way to bring supplies to the miners in the Hills. The trail is about 110 miles (180 km) in length, and can be used by hikers, cross-country skiers, and cyclists. The cost is $4 per day or $15 annually.
Today, the major city in the Black Hills is
In many ways, the Black Hills functions as a very spread-out urban area with a population (not counting tourists) of 250,000. Other important Black Hills cities and towns include:
- Belle Fourche, a ranching town
- Custer, a mining and tourism town and headquarters for Black Hills National Forest
- Deadwood, a historic and well-preserved gambling mecca
- Hill City, a timber and tourism town in the center of the Hills, where the Black Hills Central Railroad operates historic steam trains over the former CB&Q line to Keystone
- Hot Springs, an old resort town in the southern Hills
- Keystone, a tourism town just outside Mount Rushmore
- Lead, home of the now-closed Homestake Mine (gold) and the Sanford Underground Research Facility
- Newcastle, center of the Black Hills petroleum production and refining
- Spearfish, home of Black Hills State University
- Sturgis, originally a military town (Fort Meade, now a VA center, is located just to the east). Now famous for one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the world.
- Cypress Hills (Canada), a similar landform
- The Black Hills of Dakota (song)
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- ^ "Sacred Site Pe' Sla Gains Indian Land Status". Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. March 14, 2020. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
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- ^ Griffith, Tom (November 1, 2016). "Tribes buy Bear Butte land for $1.1M". Rapid City Journal. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
- ^ Holland, Jim (November 22, 2018). "1,020 acres near Bear Butte sells to tribes for $2.3 million". Rapid City Journal. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
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- ^ "2017 Sturgis Rally economic impact reportedly $738 million". KEVN TV. Gray Digital Media. 12 October 2017. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
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- Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 3 (11th ed.). 1911. .
- Black Hills at Curlie
- Black Hills National Forest
- An article about the land the people of Black Hills
- Black Hills
- Mount Rushmore
- Physiographic sections
- Mountain ranges of South Dakota
- Mountain ranges of Wyoming
- Regions of South Dakota
- Regions of Wyoming
- Great Plains
- Tertiary volcanism
- Sacred mountains
- Religious places of the indigenous peoples of North America
- Lakota mythology
- Economy of South Dakota
- Great Sioux War of 1876
- Landforms of Lawrence County, South Dakota
- Landforms of Meade County, South Dakota
- Landforms of Pennington County, South Dakota
- Landforms of Custer County, South Dakota
- Landforms of Weston County, Wyoming
- Landforms of Crook County, Wyoming