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Some of the 86 pages in this Myth & Lore section are below.
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The Naming of the White
River & Badlands
From Legends of the Mighty
White River Valley in
the Badlands, South Dakota, USA
When the Sioux people first visited
the bare, lifeless, and sharp hills and the deep, broken cuts
in the earth along a river in western Dakota, they said to themselves
"Mako sica," which means bad land. Few things grew
or lived there, and it was almost impossible to cross the Badlands.
Finally the Indians found a natural opening, now known as Big
Foot Pass. This was because Chief Big Foot led his band of four
hundred warriors through the Pass in 1890 when the United States
soldiers thought that every route was guarded. It was this same
band that went on from the Badlands to the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Here Big Foot and his band were killed in the Battle of Wounded
Knee, which was the last big fight between the whites and the
Indians in the United States.
Through the Badlands, which is now
a National Monument, flows an unusual river. It rises in Nebraska
and crosses the western part of South Dakota to the Missouri
River. When the Indians found the river it looked as if it were
smoking, for a white fog seems to rise from the valley through
which the river flows. The haze of soft white smoke can often
be seen early in the morning, and the Indian name, meaning White
Smoking River, has been changed to its present name of White
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