Lakota man seeks to change name of Harney Peak; says current name is offensive to Sioux

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RAPID CITY, South Dakota — An American Indian man is seeking to have South Dakota's tallest point renamed.

Basil Brave Heart said Harney Peak is an offensive name for the 7,242-foot peak that is the highest point in the Black Hills and also billed as the highest point in North America east of the Rocky Mountains.

It was named for Army Gen. William S. Harney, who in 1855 led a command of soldiers that killed 86 Sioux in Nebraska. Brave Heart said it's an insult to their descendants to have Harney's name on the peak, the Rapid City Journal (http://bit.ly/1qJnAk8 ) reported.

"Wars carry a shadow," Brave Heart said, "and the U.S. is carrying a shadow for all the atrocities it committed."

Army Lt. Gouverneur K. Warren, who named the peak, chronicled the battle in his journal.

"The sight on the top of the hill was heart rending — wounded women and children crying and moaning, horribly mangled by the bullets," he wrote.

Brave Heart said the peak should be named for Black Elk, a Lakota spiritual leader who reported having a vision on the peak in the 1870s. The peak is within the Black Elk Wilderness, a federally designated wilderness area already named for him.

Brave Heart, his wife and a friend said a letter outlining his wished was sent to U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and will be sent to other lawmakers. They have not contacted the state Board of Geographic Names, which has handled similar requests in recent years.

The board would hear testimony on any formal application for a name change, then make a recommendation and forward it to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, State Historical Society Director Jay Vogt said.


Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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