You of a certain age may remember Close Encounters of the Third Kind, where people were drawn to an incredible stone formation…but they didn’t know why…
The stone formation in the movie was real — Bear Lodge or Bear Tower…which was named Devils Tower by white men. They claimed the Native folk named it that, but that could not have been because it is a sacred place. The Native folk have tried to get the name changed, but were voted down.
This is a sacred place for them. They have had so much taken from them, and all they request is to have a month of no climbers on the rock. June is a particularly religious month for them, where they have ceremonies at sacred places.
I was sad to read this. Frank Sanders can be a generous person, but I strongly disagree with his stance here. He runs a bed and breakfast that makes a profit off of people coming to climb the sacred stone. As other posters have stated, I am glad that Sanders is sober…but to say that the stone heals him, therefore, he will climb it no matter of others’ feelings is just wrong.
Bear Tower is a healing place.
People who are unaware of that can be disruptive to those seeking a connection to God and all of God’s creation. Serenity is a hard commodity to come by in this world as it is now and I cannot think of anything we need more desperately now than a connection to the Creator.
And it’s not just Bear Tower/Lodge, but Bear Butte, too, which is also a sacred place. You might recall I wrote about it when a saloon owner decided to move within a few miles of it, despite Native folk asking them not to. The owner ignored their pleas. And the native folk say prayers and tie tobacco cloths to trees all over the mountain. There are signs requesting that people speak in quiet voices and not disturb the prayer cloths nor bother people who are praying on the mountain.
Nearly every time that I was there, there were people, usually white, who ignored these simple requests. They talked loudly, even shouting, while people were there praying. I was meditating there one day and was stared at by a girl that was so bothersome I had to stop my meditation. I have had a headband I left there stolen.
If Native folk were to go into churches, taking sacred items or walking around talking loudly while people were trying to pray, there would be such a furor raised.
All they ask is for the same respect that people demand in churches.