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The Black Hills are a small and isolated mountain range rising from the Great Plains of North American in western South Dakota and extending into Wyoming.
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 “Black Hills” is a translation of the Lakota Pahá Sápa. The hills were so called because of their dark appearance from a distance, as they were covered in trees.
Native Americans have a long history in the Black Hills. After conquering the Cheyenne in 1776, the Lakota took the territory of the Black Hills, which became central to their culture. In 1868, the U.S. government signed the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, establishing the Great Sioux Reservation west of the Missouri River, and exempting the Black Hills from all white settlement forever. However, when settlers discovered gold there in 1874, as a result of George Armstrong Custer’s Black Hills Expedition, miners swept into the area in a gold rush. The US government took the Black Hills and in 1889 reassigned the Lakota, against their wishes, to five smaller reservations in western South Dakota, selling off 9 million acres of their former land. Unlike most of South Dakota, the Black Hills were settled by European Americans primarily from population centers to the west and south of the region, as miners flocked there from earlier gold boom locations in Colorado and Montana.
American conquest of the Black Hills
The conflict over control of the region sparked the Black Hills War (1876), also known as the Great Sioux War, the last major Indian War on the Great Plains. Following the defeat of the Lakota and their Cheyenne and Arapaho allies in 1876, the United States took control of the Black Hills. Despite their defeat, the Lakota never accepted the validity of the US appropriation. They have continued to try to reclaim the property, and filed a suit against the federal government.
Just before Saydie and I departed for our trip, President Donald J. Trump had his 4th of July event at Mount Rushmore, to which the Lakota Indian tribe communicated to the President that he was not welcome in Indian territory, and definitely not welcome to visit their sacred lands in the Black Hills without express permission.
Donald Trump of course ignored this and proceeded to visit anyhow, which lead to protests and members of the Lakota tribe blocking one of the roads to Mount Rushmore.

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