|The Site, 200 Miles South Of The Black Hills|
AKA "The Harney Massacre"
(photo from e-nebraskahistory.org)
Good grief. Harney was engaged in negotiations with Little Thunder even as he was prepping his troops for a massacre? How can we honor this conniving coward by continuing to attach his name to the most significant peak in the Black Hills? My gosh. We often berate the Japanese for giving false signals of detente in Washington, D.C., while their military and political leaders were preparing their attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, but we locals have no compunction about honoring one of our own for having done the same thing to those unprepared Lakota at Blue Creek. "Harney Peak" has got to go.
I have no idea what it takes to set a name change in motion, but I do know that recent efforts to
|The Mountain Itself|
Let It Be Honored By The Past, Not Degraded By It
(photo from wikipedia.org)
As to William S. Harney himself, he and his deeds belong in our History books, not on one of the most beautiful mountains in the United States. Anybody who tries to go with the "situational ethics" dodge that what he did at Blue Creek was in accordance with the moral and ethical standards of his time can go jump in Sylvan Lake, at the base of the mountain. There is no moral code whatsoever that justifies that or similar massacres that occurred during the wrenching away of the American west from its Indian occupants. We co-descendants of those days have to make the most of our shared History, including in our common heritage a mutual acceptance of facts that sometimes merit revulsion.
I'll be climbing that mountain Thursday, 160 years to the day after the events at Blue Creek, but I'll do it with a sense of awe and wonder at the surroundings--and a sense of disgust that it bears the name of a mass murderer.