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“Hinhan Kaga” Hard to Pronounce? Try “Lazy Colonialist Ethnocentrism”

South Dakotans have just three days left to submit comment on the proposal to change the name of Harney Peak to Hinhan Kaga, the Lakota name meaning “Ghost Owl Butte” that preceded the Euro imposition of the name of colonialist Indian killer General William Harney.

Hinhan Kaga, highest point in South Dakota
Three mile hike, and you guys are griping about how hard it is to pronounce? Remind me not to take you camping.

Numerous comments submitted so far oppose “Hinhan Kaga” because it’s too hard to pronounce. Funny—that hasn’t stopped us from plowing through Belle Fourche, Pierre, Flandreau, and Sioux Falls.

“Unpronounceable,” declares Dave Graves of Volga, a town with tricky misspelled Russian street names (“Astrachan”?!) Graves is prone to self-centered exaggeration, as he further defends his position by declaring, “I am sure that 99 percent of South Dakotans think the same way.”

Secretary of Tourism Jim Hagen and Secretary of Game Fish & Parks Kelly Hepler also tremble in terror that two Lakota words will tie our tongues. This from two well-placed white males who work for a man named Daugaard. (Please, show me the language in which au is pronounced /oo/. It ain’t Swedish.)

The notion that we shouldn’t give a mountain a Lakota name because we aren’t familiar with the pronunciation is the height of linguistic laziness and ethnocentrism. Seth Tupper rightly points out that “Harney Peak” probably sounded as strange to the Lakota as “Hinhan Kaga” sounds to us, but our colonizing forebears didn’t blanch at tying Lakota tongues.

The Board on Geographic Names will meet Monday, June 29 to make the final decision on the mountain name change. Send your comments to the board by this Saturday, June 20:

  • SD Board on Geographic Names
    Department of Tribal Relations
    302 East Dakota
    Pierre, SD 57501
  • Phone: 605-773-3415
  • Fax: 605-773-6592
  • Email: (How’s that pronounced? Reese? Rice? Good grief, can’t all our state officials just be named Johnson?)

More notes from the submitted comments:

  • Here are the Tourism and GF&P secretaries’ letters, submitted on official state letterhead.
  • Actor David Soul says in a May 21 letter that he’d like to see the mountain named for Black Elk, whose grandson Wallace he knew while growing up here in South Dakota.
  • Barbara Morris laments in a May 30 e-mail that “I’m a white Caucasian so my vote probably won’t count. It seems like everything has to go the way of the Indians these days.” Hear that, Lakota neighbors? Everything’s going your way. Morris says “Elk Peak or something neutral would make a lot more sense.” Morris does not say whether neutrality must be written in her native tongue.
  • Numerous opponents of Hinhan Kaga suggest Harmony Peak. None of these letters suggest such a name in Lakota.
  • Jeanette Walker writes in a May 31 e-mail that “The majority of your State is Native American and therefore has a right to the say or choice of the name of any Peak or Mountain or Park.” The Census says South Dakota is 8.9% American Indian; I hope that statistical minority status does mean American Indians don’t have a right to say what they think.
  • John Wolf in a June 2 e-mail declares Hinhan Kaga not only “is a difficult name to remember and pronounce” but also “sounds like a terrorist group.”
  • Jared Rittberger hilariously greets “tovarisch” Reiss in Russian in his June 4 e-mail and likens the name change to the name changes of Saigon to Ho Chi Minh City, St. Petersburg to Leningrad, and Volgograd to Stalingrad. “…[T]hese examples came from Communist regimes and it is indicative of the overall degenerative nature of your work and of this country.” Rittberger then translates Hinhan Kaga as “Two Owls Screwing” and vows that for “those of us who have to work for a living and and don’t have time to have protest marches and attend your politically correct, re-education camp committee meetings” will always call the mountain Harney Peak. Priceless!
  • Sandy Frazier of Eagle Butte writes on June 8 that her people have called the mountain Hinhan Kaga: “When you walk to the top you know why—the rocks look like Owls.” Frazier says our shared history includes the fact that the federal government once outlawed the ceremonies that Frazier and an old man named Antelope conduct now at the mountain, “making prayers for the world, for everyone in the world, for good rain for growing things from Mother Earth, for health—because it is the Thunders that can give life and take it.”
  • Corinne Darrow of Custer (yes, she worries her town is next) asks in her June 8 e-mail if the board is “crazy”. “Changing the name of Harney Peak to something a normal person can’t even pronounce is nuts.” Lakota speakers are, of course, abnormal. She also complains that the “prohibitive cost” of the name change is “Another taxpayer ripoff—but of course, if you don’t pay taxes, then it’s FREE.” I assume Darrow is referring to the fact that Native Americans pay no taxes on their houses in Rapid City and get to flash their sales-tax exemption cards at Wal-mart… right? Nonetheless, Darrow gets one bonus point for closing her letter, “Objectionally.”
  • Reviewing the written comments submitted since the board’s proposal of Hinhan Kaga last month through June 16, I find supportive comments outnumbered by opposition comments  26% to 74%. However, one of the supporters submits 80 additional names signed to an online petition, which would bring the percentage breakdown to 44% for and 56% against.


  1. Rorschach 2015-06-18 07:34

    Let’s meet in Sinai to talk it over.

  2. larry kurtz 2015-06-18 07:46

    Sangre de Cristo….

  3. Paul Seamans 2015-06-18 07:55

    If tourism Sec. Jim Hagen is concerned about things that might deter Black Hills tourists from visiting he should show more concern about the often mispronounced name “Azarga”, as in in situ uranium mining. Uranium mining in the Hills will keep more people away than the renaming of Harney Peak.

  4. mike from iowa 2015-06-18 08:05

    Remind David Soul not to sing.

  5. El Rayo X 2015-06-18 08:51

    So far, I have adjusted to the Indianapolis Colts, the St. Louis Rams, the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angles Angels of Anaheim. I’m still trying to get used to Puff Daddy, P Diddy or just Diddy thing. The Mighty Ducks are now just Ducks and the Devil Rays are just Rays. Comiskey Park is now US Cellular Field and don’t even get me started on the whole Peking/Beijing Bombay/Mumbai thing.

  6. Wayne B. 2015-06-18 08:57

    Near as I can tell, there have been 7-9 indigenous peoples who at one time called the Black Hills home. The Cheyenne were displaced (violently) by the Lakota. Before them were the Crow, Kiowa, Pawnee, and Arikara.

    If anyone has moral right to rename Harney Peak, I think it’s the Arikara; they were there the longest, and were a rather peaceful tribe (near as I can tell).

    I can’t speak for other folks, but I’d be pretty miffed that the conquerors of my conquerors chose to give my conquerors naming rights to land I thought of as sacred.

    Our ancestors pushed the Lakota west. The Lakota pushed others out of their native lands. I don’t mind so much the concept of changing the name of Harney Peak, but I do mind that we’re not really looking at the broad perspective of whose justice to restore.

  7. larry kurtz 2015-06-18 09:04

    Go back to bed, Wayne.

  8. jerry 2015-06-18 09:37

    I like the idea of the name change as the current one represents a blatant racist murderer no different than the one that just killed 9 in South Carolina. Hinhan Kaga runs freely from the lips and is not as difficult as some peoples last names to pronounce as has been noted. One of the backbones of South Dakota’s economy is tourism, remember, these are the folks that come to Deadwood to seek the history of the land and those lands include the warrior society that dominated the area, they also spend one hell of a lot of money. Put the name of the place back to its origins of the current owners, the great Sioux Nation and lets be proud that we have moved on with acceptance of harmony itself. Think like the late great white leader of South Dakota, George Mickelson.

  9. Spencer 2015-06-18 10:09

    Can we change the name of Crazy Horse Memorial in reverent memory of all those he butchered at the Little Bighorn? Or, is this political correctness bologna just a one way street? I guess by this standard we should be carving General Harney’s likeness into some of that Harney Peak granite in the Black Hills.

  10. larry kurtz 2015-06-18 10:19

    ‘Spencer’ makes a good point: South Dakotans are proud to be the Dylann Storm Roofs of the United States.

  11. Wayne B. 2015-06-18 10:42

    Should we just skip the pleasantries and go straight to invoking Godwin’s Law?

  12. larry kurtz 2015-06-18 11:15

    Geographical features named for racist Annie Tallent have been scrubbed.

    Atrocities were committed by both sides? Maybe, but the numbers are grossly disproportionate. The United States has caused the deaths of tens of millions of aboriginals losing only hundreds of colonializing Europeans. Andrew Jackson ordered the marching of thousands from the Atlantic Seaboard to the interior continent killing many of the Choctaw and Cherokees.

    The mountain was made taller than South Dakota’s highest natural point, Odakota Mountain, by white people with concrete and stone. It is not the highest US point east of the Rocky Mountains, either: Guadalupe Peak in Texas is.

    Revisionist history turned the Wounded Knee Massacre into a battle where soldiers were awarded medals of honor then a peak or town in the Black Hills and a national forest were named after a murderer like George Armstrong Custer. Crook City near Whitewood and Crook’s Tower, one of the 7000 footers in the Black Hills, were named after a war criminal. It’s time for Lawrence County (also named for murderers) and Warren Peak in the Wyoming Black Hills to be changed, too.

    The word ‘squaw’ has been purged even though it was derived from an Algonquin term and Inyan Kara Peak is the bastardization of American Indian words.

    This blogger has been arguing for Lakota names on South Dakota’s geological features for at least twenty years.

  13. larry kurtz 2015-06-18 11:20

    Senator Lisa Murkowski and the US Park Service are doing what Alaskans are asking of Congress urging the body to approve a name change for North America’s highest peak.

    The Athabascan name, meaning “the high one,” has been a bone of contention between Alaska’s congressional delegation and Ohio’s, which has sought to preserve the current name honoring assassinated U.S. president William McKinley. “At home in Alaska, we just call it Denali because it’s part of our history,” Murkowski said, according to the statement. “Officially changing the name from Mount McKinley to Mount Denali will show the long-standing significance that the name Denali holds for Alaskans.”

    But in the occupied Black Hills of South Dakota descendants of European colonizers are apoplectic over the proposal to restore the state’s highest point to its Lakota name.

    It’s time for the State of South Dakota to abandon Bear Butte State Park that it claimed through colonization and remand it to the tribes for governance.

  14. Rorschach 2015-06-18 11:25

    Wayne B. Can you refresh my memory about whom the United States government signed a treaty with that involved the Black Hills?

  15. leslie 2015-06-18 11:46

    How many acres of Treaty land does rittberger run cattle on? A: A lot. How many rittbergers are there since they squatted on Indian land? A: A lot. How many rittbergers are educated? A: Its gonna take a lot!

    I have heard that Owls are symbolic for spiritual messengers. Like Angels? Hmmm

    Meanwhile colonists came up with “Sqaw Tit Butte” and “Sqaw Humper Table” as geographic names in “our beloved black hills”(C) KOTA broadcast area.


  16. Paul Seamans 2015-06-18 12:01

    Wayne B, my understanding is that according to Oceti Sakowin oral tradition that the Sioux were residents of the Black Hills years before they moved east to the Minnesota area. White history on the Sioux only goes back to the 1700’s. The Oceti Sakowin tradition has their people’s creation story having them arise from the Black Hills. I guess I don’t know if the Sioux ran the Cheyenne out of the Black Hills or not. I do know that the Sioux and Cheyenne have been allies from way back.

  17. Rorschach 2015-06-18 12:09

    What’s a rittberger?

  18. Bill Dithmer 2015-06-18 12:12

    It looks to me like that treaty was made with the wrong people. Void and start again.

    The Blindman

  19. Spencer 2015-06-18 13:27

    Much of Lakota culture is as about as old as George Washington. The Lakota adopted the use of horses from the Cheyenne sometime during the 1730s and modified much of their hunting and gathering accordingly. The Lakota “discovered” the Black Hills in 1765. They would have likely never moved West River in the first place if it were not for smallpox epidemics that wiped out much of their competition to the west. It was not until 1776 that the Cheyenne were driven out of the Black Hills by the Lakota. The Lakota renaming of Harney Peak only feeds the delusion that there is some ancient connection between the Lakota and the Black Hills when reality could not be any further from the truth. French fur traders discovered the Black Hills before the Lakota. We should rename the peak after the La Verendrye family since they saw Harney Peak on January 1743 or 22 years before any Lakota set eyes on the Black Hills.

  20. Douglas Wiken 2015-06-18 13:30

    The proposed name sounds like somebody gagging or vomiting. In any case, changing the name does not change history. If Native Americans want to name a peak or hill or water hole, let them do it in Lakota Dakota county.

    The name should stay the same or be changed to something innocuous like Hipeotromo or similar acronym for “Highest Point East of the Rocky Mountains.

    If left the same, a good-sized brass historical marker should be installed indicating what Gen. Harney did that was both good and evil. That will leave a more lasting record and memory than changing the name to some unpronounceable gagging sound.

  21. Paul Seamans 2015-06-18 13:38

    Wayne B, I was not aware that the Arikara inhabited the Black Hills area. According to my understanding of history the Arikara, as well as the Hidstata and the Mandan, lived in semi-permanent lodges along the Missouri River and followed a farming type lifestyle. These three tribes are now part of the Ft. Berthold reservation in ND.

  22. larry kurtz 2015-06-18 13:43

    ‘Spencer’ you’re full of spit.

    The ancestors of all American Indians saw that peak about 12,000 years ago after coming up the Little Missouri then crossing into the Cheyenne/Belle Fourche drainage. Lakota is an Algonquin-based tongue and is spoken by the majority of South Dakota’s tribal nations.

    The mountain was made taller than South Dakota’s highest natural point, Odakota Mountain, by white people with concrete and stone. It is not the highest US point east of the Rocky Mountains, either: Guadalupe Peak in Texas is.

    I swear.

  23. larry kurtz 2015-06-18 13:46

    Rewrite: the ancestors of all Amerindians east of the Rockies.

  24. Flipper 2015-06-18 14:13

    Bravo Cory, I knew you’d pick up on the one!

    Boy, our SD Dept. Of Tourism is on a winning streak lately. First, “Don’t jerk and drive. Next, “Why die on Mars when you can live in South Dakota?” And now our tourism secretary thinks we’re just too darn dense to learn how to pronounce a couple of simple Lakota words.

    By the way, if you’re going to invade a native peoples’ land, murder and rape them, introduce new diseases and alcoholism and then live there, the least you can do is learn their language.

  25. Bill Dithmer 2015-06-18 14:59

    I have an idea here. How about finding out “through archeology ” who was here first. That should satisfy everybody, unless of course your tribe comes out sucking the hind tit.

    Some years ago Liberty University came out to the Pine Ridge and did a study. That would be the place to find actual facts. They know from carbon dating, and what tribe’s camp was on top of the others camp, who was really here first.

    The Blindman

  26. Bill Fleming 2015-06-18 15:33

    Bill, D. Doesn’t that just beg the question? What are the chances they would discover that it was the U.S. Government or people who knew who “Harney” was? (i.e. don’t we already know who the hind tit belongs to? ;-)

  27. Bill Dithmero 2015-06-18 16:06

    Owning and sucking are two entirely different things.

    Hell Bill I would just like to see all those artifacts they took back east that were supposed to come back to SD. For a few years they were all over the five state area digging and mapping old travel routes along fresh water.

    They dug at least six sites on Pass Creek that I know of. One south of our place, three on Berrys, one just up from the mouth of Pass Creek where it runs into the Big White, and one just down from Wells Springs.

    The Blindman

  28. Bill Fleming 2015-06-18 16:18

    I saw a 7-9000 year old dig (500 years of layered campfires) in Craven Canyon (down by Edgemont). There’s your “original” peeps, Bill D. From what I gather, at least the more recent Indians had some respect for the “ancients” and recycled their stone arrowheads. And yeah, I agree, that stuff belongs here, not “out east” somewhere.

  29. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-06-18 16:37

    Spencer, we can’t use the name you suggested. The “La Verendrye” family is too hard to pronounce.

    I spent a few months in WI, home of a far right wing nut governor. The state is peppered – and salted! – with American Indian names. Follow I 90 from Madison to Milwaukee for a sample. (“Milwaukee” is a sample!) While I was there I lived in Oconomowoc. Yes, Oconomowoc. Everyone pronounced it just fine.

    BTW, they wondered how many Indian names we used for our towns and geographical features. Um. I couldn’t think of any non-Americanized ones.

  30. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-06-18 16:42

    Wayne, that historical point about the relatively recent occupation of the Black Hills has been made by several of the letter writers. None of those opponents appear to be Arikara.

    But we could play a really nasty trick on the Lakota. Let’s cede the Black Hills to them, let them establish an Independent Republic of Lakota. Then they’ll have to establish their own Board of Geographic Names, and then the Arikara will come a-knockin’ with their historical argument against the imperialist toponyms of their Lakota conquerors… because remember you can only lodge claims of imperialism against the imperialists in power.

  31. Paul Seamans 2015-06-18 16:52

    Deb Geelsdottir, I can think of one town in SD with an Indian name. Kadoka, Lakota for “Hole in the Wall”. It was probably even given this name by the Milwaukee Railroad.

  32. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-06-18 16:54

    Spencer, “political correctness” is a common phrase in many of the opponents’ letters. “Madness,” the pc-criers call it. “Political correctness will be the death of us all.”

    No. Political correctness is neither madness nor mortal. Political correctness is about challenging one key part of white privilege, the ability the privileged class to say offensive things about the oppressed class without fear of retribution. It’s not bologna… but yes, it is a one-way street, reflecting the one-way power dynamic. Yes, political correctness stings the privileged class, because it makes them keenly aware they they no longer rule the country with impunity, that they really do have to listen to those whom they have oppressed.

    Hinhan Haga—with a little familiarity and practice, no harder to pronounce than Hawaii… or Heidelberger.

  33. Paul Seamans 2015-06-18 16:57

    After Gen. Harney and his troops attacked a peaceful Indian camp the Lakota referred to him as “Woman Killer”. I would suggest that as a compromise we keep the peak named after Harney but use the Lakota name for him. How does Woman Killer Peak sound?

  34. Bill Dithmer 2015-06-18 17:05

    According to those digs the Arikara were there many years before the Lakota.

    The Blindman

  35. larry kurtz 2015-06-18 17:09

    Adrien Hannus and Augustana excavated a shelter in Boulder Canyon that had 11,700 years of human history, dudes. The Clovis sites in Montana slightly older.

  36. Donald Pay 2015-06-18 17:12

    Here’s an interesting idea for South Dakota that can be borrowed from Wisconsin (better check whether there could be intellectual property rights issues first). Sometimes the names for towns, tribes, and people etc., can stump a newcomer. New news reporters here can get tripped up quickly. “Ah, we say, how long before he is told about “Miss Pronouncer?”

    It’s not just the Indian names, which have a lot of syllables. The French were here second, and named a lot of thing, even Indian tribes. Say, Lac Courte O’reille then check the site I provide below to see if you passed the test. Then, of course, there is New Berlin. No one gets that right.

  37. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-06-18 17:16

    “Woman Killer Peak”—Interesting suggestion, Paul! That might answer the complaint many of the opponents offer, that we are somehow ignoring or rewriting history. That name would more clearly explain actions Harney actually took.

    Since so many people are boggled by the pronunciation, we clearly need to add a new plank to our education reform plans. South Dakota needs to require two years of Lakota language instruction for high school graduation.

    Problem with seeking historical names prior to the Lakota: even if the archaeology can identify the original inhabitants, would we be able to pin down the name those people would have used for the Black Hills? Would we be able to perform linguistic archaeology to figure out how that name would have changed from its original never-written form to whatever modern version of their language their descendants might speak today?

  38. jerry 2015-06-18 17:21

    Always a delight to get to hear the white side of things and there fear of losing the land they stole. If you give the native a hold on anything that is viewed as part of their history, whites cringe. The nerve of natives to think they can bring something like this up. I think that there should be something named for the woman killer Harney that would be appropriate to his home state of Tennessee or even Missouri where they could appreciate his sorry behind. Maybe an outhouse.

  39. Roger Cornelius 2015-06-18 17:30

    There is a very good reason institutions of higher learning do not allow students to use Wikipedia as a resource, they are good for information but necessarily for factual information.

    The United States signed a treaty with the Sioux granting them lands including the Black Hills. I’m not aware of any other tribes that a contract with the Sioux for the Black Hills. If you believe in the U.S. government, you must support all legal treaties.

    Liberty University being used as resource for anything is laughable. Isn’t that where Ted Cruz and other republicans clowns have made their presidential intention known?

    Finally, has anyone anywhere bothered to ask the Arikira their opinion on ownership of the Black Hills? Probably not, there are just a bunch of white privileged folks running their mouth thinking they know what Indians think or want?

  40. Jon D 2015-06-18 17:32

    Spencer at 13:27, “….when reality could not be any further from the truth.” I don’t like to pick nits, but just think about that for a minute.

  41. Wayne B. 2015-06-18 17:33


    I’m respecting you a little less after that second paragraph.

    I wouldn’t be so flippant about the prospect of displacing peoples from their homes & their livelihoods. We’ve seen the damage that does. I have no wish to inflict further harm upon a tangled situation. Nor do I wish to play a nasty trick on the Lakota (or anyone else for that matter…).

    I simply voice my concerns that we’re being very hasty about renaming a prominent geographic feature and seeking recommendations for names without being considerate of the deep history of the Black Hills.

    I don’t believe we’ve heard from any Arikara, Pawnee, Cheyenne, etc.

    But does the absence of their voices equate to consent? Perhaps we should ask them. Surely our board of geographic names could request input. If the varied tribes who once called the Black Hills home are content with the name Hinhan Kaga, all lights are green. If there are bones of contention, I’d much rather we hash them out than go through another belabored renaming process. Wouldn’t you?

    Personally, I think it’s a nifty name and a little fun to say. It’s got a rhythm to it.

  42. larry kurtz 2015-06-18 17:37

    Restoring the dignity of an endangered culture is one tiny part of eliminating suicides, South Dakota.

  43. Bill Dithmero 2015-06-18 17:38

    Jerry your tribe must have got here late.

    The Blindman

  44. larry kurtz 2015-06-18 17:39

    Trace O’Connell Peak works.

  45. jerry 2015-06-18 17:47

    Yes, I am always late, it is how I roll. As you live in Missouri, you can visit the woman killer’s home there, should be interesting.

  46. jerry 2015-06-18 17:53

    When the treaty was made at Fort Laramie, I do not recall reading about the other tribes being involved with that document. The United States Government made the treaty with the owners of the said lands as that is how it is actually done regarding instruments of the law. Sorry, but the lands in west river South Dakota, including hinhan kaga, were native lands. That said, what is the big issue about renaming a mountain that native people find offensive? Why the fear?

  47. Bill Dithmero 2015-06-18 18:08

    Looks like the government got caught trading stollen property.

    The Blindman

  48. bearcreekbat 2015-06-18 18:18

    Roger’s point is based on Article VI of the U.S. Constitution: “This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land.”

    The 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty was the “supreme law of the land,” yet the US government breached its’ promises made in this treaty. For an accurate factual description of our government’s disrespect for this “supreme law of the land” see:

    The 8-1 Supreme Court opinion is both lengthy and consistent. The USA violated the treaty and the 5th amendment by forcibly taking this land without providing just compensation to the Sioux. That seems a significant difference between various tribes, such as the Cheyenne or Arikra and the Sioux, warring for control of land, and a supposed lawful nation, the USA, simply taking the land in violation of prior promises that were supposed to be “the supreme law” of our land.

  49. mike from iowa 2015-06-18 18:38

    Was there ever a treaty signed by the US that we didn’t violate?(treaties with Native Americans)

  50. grudznick 2015-06-18 19:54

    Once again my good friend Mr. kurtz is wrong, or intentionally misleading. The USGS geodetic survey marker set about 300 feet from the stone lookout tower is fixed in bedrock at 7,242 or so.

    O’dakota mountain, no doubt a drab, bug infected place itself, is just barely over 7,400. If the USGS counted man made structures as part of elevation, Lar, both Terry Peak and Bear Mountain would be taller than Harney Peak.

    In fact, wasn’t Harney Peak marked as 7,242 prior to the stone fire tower being erected by those nice CC fellows? Stop making things up, or tell us you don’t believe your government.

    We, here, call that a kurtzBAH

  51. grudznick 2015-06-18 19:56

    O’Dakota = 7,204 not 7,400. My fingers are bleeding today from the agonies.

  52. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-06-18 21:37

    I don’t like “Woman Killer” Peak. Somehow misogynists will make vile use of that name.

    I don’t see how it is incumbent on SD to search for the very first inhabitants of Hin Han Kaga. It should be renamed by the people who were the treaty signers. If another people wants to take it up with them, have at it.

  53. jerry 2015-06-18 21:43

    The only reason the talk turned to whose on first is that it changes the subject. The last thing needed is uppity natives thinking they also had names for places like Chicago and that sort of thing. Here is woman killers mentor another white rascist that deserves to be chastised for his history.

  54. grudznick 2015-06-18 21:54

    Ms. Geelsdottir, you may be right. You may not but you probably are. But I know for sure it should not be named by a single soul who does not live, lock, stock and barrel, permanently within the boundaries of the Great State of South Dakota.

    grudznick coming to your town to change some names, soon.

  55. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-06-18 22:16

    Hang on, Wayne: I missed the part where anyone is being displaced from anyone’s home here… although the (mostly white, right?) opponents of the name change are acting like they are being victimized as badly as the folks who really were displaced from their homes to make way for our gunpowder-and-steel empire 150 years ago.

  56. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-06-18 22:19

    At peril of supporting anything Grudz says, I did notice that a number of the proponent comments came from folks out of state (Minnesota, Boulder CO, etc.). Not all comments include addresses, so I can’t offer a solid geographical breakdown.

  57. Wayne B. 2015-06-18 23:16

    Cory, when you talk about ceding the Black Hills back to the Lakota, do you realize what that entails? It’s a large swathe of territory that included Rapid City, Hill City, Lead, Deadwood, Custer, Spearfish, etc. Not just the parts kept as the national forest.

    What happened to the indigenous peoples of North America was traumatic. If we liken it to a surgeon who amputates your perfectly healthy legs… well, it’s too late to reattach them. Naturally you sue, and the court says “yeah, he shouldn’t have done that,” and you get a giant sum from medical malpractice. But you want your legs back. You’ve been wronged and money just doesn’t quite do the trick.

    But it doesn’t make sense to demand to amputate the legs of the surgeon’s grandkid so you can use them to walk around.

    That’s allegorically what’s being brandied about when people so flippantly talk about ceding the Black Hills back. I’m convinced inflicting another trauma isn’t going to make right the trauma inflicted by our ancestors.

    But if you guys all insist on sticking to the SCOTUS decision which determined the US illegally took the Black Hills (which I think is a correct assessment), then the judgement that was rendered and the restitution required (monetary damages) should also stand. It’s pretty poor form to appeal to authority for half the argument, then disregard the same authority for the next half.

    So yeah, brandying about all that talk about giving back the Black Hills can raise a lot of ire. It raises my blood pressure when we talk about taking away people’s homes and livelihoods. I lament what my forebears did to all the tribes who once inhabited these lands. But I cannot change the past.

    So yeah, rename Harney Peak if it helps heal some wounds. But I still think it’s incumbent upon us to do it right this time, rather than go off half cocked and need to do it again because somebody else felt they were robbed of a chance to participate.

  58. larry kurtz 2015-06-19 06:13

    The seizure of the Black Hills was to pay Civil War debts.

  59. Paul Seamans 2015-06-19 08:13

    Wayne B, most Lakota that I know, when they talk about having the Black Hills being returned, are talking about land still owned by the government being returned to them. They are not after land that my grandparents homesteaded or after the business on main street Rapid City. They understand that would never fly. The misperception that the Lakota are asking for a 100% return of the Black Hills is used by non-Indians as an argument for the US Government to not honor it’s 1868 treaty.

  60. Douglas Wiken 2015-06-19 09:11

    Treaties are only honored when they are mutually beneficial. That is the reality of real world politics. There are winners and losers in wars. Losers seldom ever get what they wanted by making war.

  61. Porter Lansing 2015-06-19 09:14

    Wasiciu have no right to name something that doesn’t belong to them ….. period. Bringing the injustice and the debt due to national spotlight would be appropriate. Not until every native home has a granite countertop made from the demolished heads of Mt. Rushmore will justice BEGIN to be served. Crazy Horse is Sodak’s monument. Mt. Rushmore is only a disgusting testimony to hate and theft.

  62. jerry 2015-06-19 09:26

    Thanks for showing the big worry that whites have about anything positive in the Black Hills that relate to the treaty owners. They worry that by naming or anything that reflects change in the Black Hills makes there own property at risk of being reclaimed and renamed as well. This is really no different than the situation on the West Bank and Palestine with the Israeli land grab. Whites were not pleased with the Cobell litigation either for the same reason. As Paul Seamans notes, the land in question is not privately owned, but is land that is owned and some would say, poorly controlled, by the United States Government. This is the same government that entered into the treaty boundaries along with the negotiations that were instigated by the government suing for peace. Native people won the fight in the courts regarding the theft of this land and want their land returned as they now exist. Rest assured that your womenfolk and the north 40 are not being pursued, main street in Rapid City can go on without the circling of the wagons and you folks out there in Philip can stand down. Hinhan Kaga is a beautiful name that can be easily written and pronounced in both languages as well as the other European languages of those that visit this place as tourists. Rapid City is a destination point and you can easily see people from all over this small planet walking the streets there. It makes sense for the Native people and their children to see this as something special and it makes sense for those that will come from other parts of the world to see we are open to respected change and acceptance.

  63. larry kurtz 2015-06-19 09:43

    Statehood for the tribes and Mexico.

  64. Greg Belfrage 2015-06-19 10:10

    Don’t forget to mention Bon Homme and Jerauld counties among the current tongue twisters. I still hear the former being pronounced several different ways among long time residents.

    We’re constantly mispronouncing names here, anyway.

    Kiwanis Avenue in Sioux Falls is a great example. Many here say “KEE -a-wan-is” versus the correct pronunciation of “ki-WAH-nis”.

    Some of us don’t even pronounce Washington correctly! Many add an R…Warshington.

    What’s one more mispronunciation in the big scheme of things? I favor changing it. Hopefully, it can be a step toward healing in our state.

  65. Porter Lansing 2015-06-19 10:11

    Politically correct and political correctness are terms invented and used by bigots to shield themselves from valid criticism. Correct is correct no matter the qualifier put before it.

  66. bearcreekbat 2015-06-19 10:17

    Great point Porter!

  67. leslie 2015-06-19 10:30

    It is historically startling so many negative commenters think the “Grattan Massacre” the year before was Indian instigated. It is clear that Conquering Bear tried to defuse the situation (Lt. Gratten showed up with 30 some troops and artillery or gattling guns in an Indian camp to arrest the “thief” who killed a Moman cow from a passing wagon train). Conquering Bear was shot and the Indians retaliated.

    Crazy Horse a butcher at Greasy Grass? Hardly. Again his people were attacked by the US military from all directions.

  68. leslie 2015-06-19 11:06

    Doanne Robinson, noted historian, said in 1906: “The Battle of Ash Hollow [Blue Water Creek, NE] was a cruel massacre of the Brules…Though hailed as a great victory [it]…was a shameful affair, unworthy of American arms, and a disgrace to the officer who planned it.” A BRIEF HISTORY OF SOUTH DAKOTA, p. 96, 97.

    Sent to SDBGN, 6.17.2015 by Mark Butterbrodt.

  69. leslie 2015-06-19 12:49

    spencer-you misunderstand history. why? are you the 7-12 educator in Hoven, across the river from CRST and SRST?

  70. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-06-19 19:39

    Porter said, “Politically correct and political correctness are terms invented and used by bigots to shield themselves from valid criticism. Correct is correct no matter the qualifier put before it.”

    Absolutely right, and so well put I’d like to use it some times. Is that okay with you, Porter.

  71. Porter Lansing 2015-06-20 06:16

    To the anglos claiming the Lacotah stole the Black Hills and thus held no claim over it. Quite frankly, y’all sound like thieves trying to talk their way out of being arrested. The Great Sioux Nation were nomadic people and didn’t possess land. They didn’t fight to own land, they fought for ponies and to count coup and because they were a warrior culture. Not until the white’s military conquered them and made certain land unaccessable to the tribes did they begin to understand the Wasiciu idea of “owning” what only The Great Spirit controls. The Lakotah claim on the Black Hills came when Pres. Grant signed the treaty which GAVE them ownership. From that point on the white man’s culture, which was forced upon the Natives became the law of the land for NDN’s and Anglos alike. Before the treaty all the Native Nations considered the Black Hills sacred but no tribe owned them. Then gold was found and the treaty was broken. SCOTUS ruled the Black Hills are owned by the Lacotah and they want and are legally entitled to it back.

  72. Bill Dithmero 2015-06-20 07:39

    Sorry folks I will never be made to feel guilty for something I never did. Remember it isn’t me that wants to change names. I’ve never stolen any land from anybody, and I’ve never intentionally hurt anyone for being native so don’t even go there.

    Political correctness came from the liberals in my own dem party.

    Again I wasn’t here when these things happened, my folks weren’t here, and their folks weren’t here. All my life I’ve gotten with all people, there w a s never a time growing up that we didn’t have close native friends either trading work or playing. If that bigotry so be it. How many of the rest of you whites can say that you had that same experience growing up?

    Funny thing here, we never noticed that the friends we played with were anything other then people. Those that are still alive are still close friends.

    I will never I repeat never appologise for something I had nothing to do with!

    The Blindman

  73. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-06-20 22:30

    Blindman, I deeply regret that the stolen lands happened to them, plus the boarding schools, racism, etc. All those things make me feel sad and I do want to be part of building better conditions for them.

    I don’t feel a need to apologize though. I think this is post about changing a name, not apologizing. None of my people had a direct role in any attacks on Indians that I’m aware of. I have profited indirectly from the racism that afflicts brown people.

  74. Roger Cornelius 2015-06-20 22:58

    As a Native American I have never asked for an apology from a racist or anyone else regarding the Black Hills and the broken treaties. From some, I would never accept an apology anyway.

    What is objectionable in this year of 2015 when people are so educated they would find more understanding and tolerance from others not like them, whether Indian, white, black, a member of the LGBT and the white women that white men are married to.

    White male privilege continues to be an ever growing mental illness.

    I’ve been fortunate in my life, I’ve been able to blend comfortably with all kinds of people and cultures from all over the world. Most people in my world have a basic understanding of humanity and are respectful of others differences, including many here on Dakota Free Press
    While many are locked in the historical past and believe that history can’t be rewritten, I believe history to be evolving everyday and corrections are made at a near snails pace, but they are made.
    I don’t respect anyone that trash talks and spreads archaic stereotypes about Native Americans. What people hope to gain by demeaning Native Americans, Blacks or anyone else is baffling.
    Does that make them feel better about themselves, does that gain them a higher place in heaven, if there is such a place. What is to be gained by HATE or contempt?
    I’m not a Christian person, perhaps more spiritual with my own personal beliefs, but I would like to think there is a God and heaven and Hell and the devil, when it comes to the inane hatred among the races, it gives me some comfort to hope that God is waiting for those with Hate in their heart with his own message.

  75. Bill Dithmer 2015-06-21 07:42

    “I don’t respect anyone that trash talks and spreads archaic stereotypes about Native Americans.”

    And yet you feel free as a bird to trash talk white ranchers for nothing more then being white Roger. Dont you even recognize the hypocrisy in what you say?

    There is no person posting here on a regular basis that has traded as much work with my indian friends and neighbors as I have, not even you Roger. Thats 60 years of friendship, working and playing together. 60 years of funeral, and 60 years of birthdays.

    Nobody else here even tried to helo bring jobs to the Pine Ridge. I had detailed plans that would not only bring jobs but find the money so they wouldnt have to use any of their own.

    Nope not one of you people offer any real solutions, whys that?

    The Blindman

  76. Jenny 2015-06-21 14:04

    I was just on a trip to the Black Hills this past week and asked questions to the local owners and workers at various tourist stops of their opinion of the recent racial incidents in Rapid City. I will write more about it later.

  77. Roger Cornelius 2015-06-21 16:56

    Dithmer has repeatedly claim on this blog that he has a master plan to end unemployment on the Pine Ridge Reservation, but will not tell us what this plan is and what it entails

    In the early years of President John Steele’s administration I was a trusted member of his kitchen cabinet. The tribe is inundated with pie-in-the-sky and blue sky business plans on a daily basis.

    Most if not all of these business “opportunities are scams utilizing natural resources with no return, plans based on minimum wage jobs that will never meet economic needs and keep tribal members in poverty, and naturally these scams will bring in white management because Indians aren’t managers.
    Many of these scams for business “opportunities” may not be legal are dubious in nature.
    Anybody here could probably create what they think is a grand slam for unemployment on the reservation, but after legal questions are considered, viability needs to be questioned.
    Most of the scams require something from the tribe and those that say nothing is required from the tribal expect the government or Bureau of Indian Affairs to provide money for feasibility studies, employee training and operating costs.
    If Dithmer had such a grand plan, why did the tribe reject it?

  78. larry kurtz 2015-06-21 17:29

    Mato Akahpe: now there’s a mouthful.

  79. bearcreekbat 2015-06-21 17:39

    Blindman, I am a fairly regular poster here. How can you claim to know what I have done or not done to provide jobs on South Dakota reservations?

    And, maybe I missed it, but I don’t recall any posts by Roger where he trash talks white ranchers for being white. My recollection is that Roger generally writes thoughtful and insightful posts that are very respectful to those bloggers who write respectful posts about virtually any topic.

  80. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-06-21 17:59

    I think people often don’t understand what “white male privilege” is.

    It’s not something a white male necessarily Does. White male privilege simply Is. Blindman, Cory, BCB (?), don’t have to Do anything. The dominant culture of the USA is based on the white male. Current white males didn’t build their dominance and the only escape is to leave the country.

    On the other hand, because white males have more power than the rest of us, they are most capable of reducing this crippling imbalance. That does require concrete actions that any white man can do.

  81. larry kurtz 2015-06-21 18:11

    Imagine pulling a clan up the Little Missouri River: the first humans to see the Missouri Buttes and Devils Tower then settling Paradise only to have it destroyed in 12,000 years.

  82. Roger Cornelius 2015-06-21 18:20

    Thanks for your acknowledgements, I rarely talk about any contributions I make to the community where I live, including the many years living on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Friends and relatives know my monetary and volunteer contributions, that is enough for me.
    In fairness to Dithmer, I will tell you some of what I have said about white farmers and ranchers on the reservation as best as I can recall.

    1. Many of these farmers and ranchers complain about food stamps and other welfare services while pocketing millions of dollars over the years in farm subsidizes and farm insurance programs.
    2. The question of how these farmers and ranchers have acquired there lands in the heart of Indian country needs to be questioned. Maybe the current generation or the previous one didn’t get their holdings by nefarious deals, somewhere along the line you can be sure land acquisitions were made by questionable methods.
    3. Because some of these farmers and ranchers and lived a life time on the reservations taking advantage of low wages and gaining use of leased land for little or nothing, they have become “Indian Experts”, feeling to free to criticize and chastise tribal governments while their own state and federal governments are seeping with corruption.
    Dithmer once invited me to his home on the Pine Ridge reservation to educate me about the Oglala Lakota. I rejected that invitation because of the audacity of it and the patronizing tone of the invitation. Would you have accepted under the circumstances.
    Now, if this trash talk or hypocrisy, so be it.

  83. bearcreekbat 2015-06-21 18:28

    Deb, Here is an interesting list of mere “male privilege.”

    Add the modifier “white” and the extent of privilege tends to grow.

    And it concerns me that you wonder whether I am a “white male.” I would rather my voice and writings be considered as mere arguments (hopefully persuasive) that relate to particular policy positions, without regard to my suspected race or sex.

  84. Bob Newland 2015-06-21 19:34

    I’ve been channeling Lynn. She thinks this entire argument would be resolved if the threat of legalizing a benign herb were removed.

  85. grudznick 2015-06-21 19:56

    Bob. It is brain wrenching ditch weed with no medicinal purpose that drives some people insaner than most. See you at the rainbowfest.

  86. Bill Dithmer 2015-06-21 20:33

    ” Dithmer has repeatedly claim on this blog that he has a master plan to end unemployment on the Pine Ridge Reservation, but will not tell us what this plan is and what it entails”

    Thats wrong Roger I have brought those planes to Madville Times and Interested Party. No secret, they were in print just as plain as day. I would have never made a cent on those projects so there you have it.

    ” Blindman, I am a fairly regular poster here. How can you claim to know what I have done or not done to provide jobs on South Dakota reservations?”

    Thats fine BCB lets see the light of day, dont stand behind that curtain and talk. You dont strike me as someone who traded ranch and farm help all your life.

    The Blindman

  87. grudznick 2015-06-21 20:47

    Mr. C, I do not think that is trash talk but if you do go visit Mr. Dithmer would you give me a ride along so I could meet the Blindman also? He seems an interesting sort.

  88. Roger Cornelius 2015-06-21 20:52


    I have absolutely no intention to travel to Missouri or anywhere else for that matter to learn about my tribe.

  89. Lynn 2015-06-21 21:05


    Did you see where I posted anywhere on this thread up above that our mutual friend Bob Newland is referring to? It must be one of the many long term negative side effects of smoking that wacky weed. LoL

    We should all go out for a nice breakfast by that colorful old school bus at the Rainbow Fest. It’s advertised as free on the side of the bus :)

  90. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-06-21 21:09

    BCB said, “And it concerns me that you wonder whether I am a “white male.”

    BCB, white male is not a pejorative to me, not a judgment. That I don’t really know is a compliment. I don’t need to know either. What I know of you is what you’ve revealed here and what I’ve garnered from that is respect for you.

    I’m sorry that my words might have sounded unkind. That was not at all my intent.

  91. Lynn 2015-06-21 21:16

    Regarding a proposed name change from Harney Peak to Hinhan Kaga it’s cool with me. Our federal government has a history of broken promises and treaties with tribal nations since they landed on the shores of what is now known as North America. It’s one thing to be conquered such as when the Mongels swept thru Asia, Germanic and Viking Tribes thru Europe but our government broke treaties over and over again in their expansion westward and tried to wipe them out. That’s a big difference to me.

  92. leslie 2015-06-22 02:59

    Thank you cory for this coverage. There may actually be a huge number more of signatures in favor of the name change than against, which were submitted en mass to the board and may not have been included on the state website. I am not sure of what I have heard from others (600 or so in favor?)

    Perhaps a better questionnaire might have asked simply whether the name should be changed FROM harney, without specifying the final chosen name.

    Did the Wyoming Senator ranching near Huelett just propose Custer SD be renamed? hahahahah. sorry. i haven’t heard anyone suggesting that.

  93. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-06-22 06:03

    Changing Devil’s Tower to Bear Lodge, as discussed in the links Larry provides, raises some different arguments from the Harney–Hinhan Kaga question. There’s still the question of white colonialism, but the error there is translation, not murder.

    But just as Hagen opposes changing Harney’s name, the Wyoming tourism department opposes changing Devil’s Tower, because they don’t want the state to lose “brand equity.”

  94. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-06-22 06:07

    I’m a white male, and I don’t take offense at Deb’s and Roger’s use of “white male privilege.” They don’t mean to offend or exclude with the term; they simply describe the fact that I enjoy certain advantages in America because of my race and sex. A fair chunk of the outrage expressed in the letters to the Board on Geographic Names comes from this proposal’s pricking of that privilege.

  95. The King 2015-06-22 07:33

    If the legislature can decide in 90 seconds to raise the interstate speed limit to 80 mph we can make a similarly quick decision on the name of the peak. Let’s get on with it and then spend energy addressing the much larger racial issues. Focus.

  96. mike from iowa 2015-06-22 08:23

    Wyoming’s got Cheney. How much worse of a brand could they need?

  97. Bob Newland 2015-06-22 08:58

    Placing the words “actor” and “David Soul” in the same sentence makes it hard to pronounce.

  98. leslie 2015-06-22 13:38

    dick cheney-white privilege: pretty much says it all

  99. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-06-22 18:31

    That is an outstanding article, BCB. Thanks so much. The words “racism” and “sexism” are interchangeable. I could have copied many parts of it, but I settled on this one:

    “I did not set this system up but it does unfairly benefit me and I am responsible for interrupting it.”

    Whether the topic is white privilege or male privilege, the statement is true for both whites and males.

  100. bearcreekbat 2015-06-22 18:47

    Deb, I agree that the problems identified in the article extend to sexism as well as racism. Diangelo’s article is certainly eye opening and should be a must read for young people who abhor the continuation of racism and sexism.

  101. mike from iowa 2015-06-22 19:27

    Wait until HRC gets elected Potus and watch as racism changes to sexism overnight.

  102. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-06-22 19:32

    It won’t be anything new Mike. Both are at least equally damaging.

  103. Skye 2016-05-22 14:01

    As a visitor to your beautiful state, I.e. tourist, it is unbelievable to think how narrow minded some of these opinions are… If you think not being able to pronounce a very deserved name that truly belongs, then your crazy! Try leaving your own home and travel more… To understand why the name is important is in the beauty that defines such a sacred and special place…

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