Thunder Butte, in South Dakota, has featured prominently in my family's history since 1913. Also known as "Wakinyan Paha" to the Lakota, its religious and cultural significance to the Lakota goes back much further in time, still. Rising from the dry, rolling prairie grasslands in Ziebach County, in northwestern South Dakota, the butte is located on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.
From the top of the butte, you can see for miles in every direction. There are not many people here, although the land is alive with the memory of those who walked here before us. Taking in the quiet of the plains as they reach to the horizon, you can well imagine the way the world was before we were here, and what it may look like long after we have moved on.
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Cheyenne River Lakota Nation
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Ziebach County History (USGenWeb)
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South Dakota Office of Tourism
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Timber Lake, South Dakota
Timber Lake Historical Society
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
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July 28, 2005
The Big Drought: Turning Grasshoppers into Profits
While my family couldn’t do anything about the heat and the never ending dust during the drought, we did try to control the grasshoppers. Our screen door was often black with grasshoppers. Before we could enter or exit the house, we would roll up a newspaper and burn the grasshoppers off the screen door. About this time, my mother came up with an ingenious plan. She ordered about a thousand baby chicks from the Sears-Roebuck catalog. They were delivered through the mail and we set about raising them the best we could.
When those chickens were mature, the land all around us was covered with white Leghorn chickens. Those chickens grew and thrived. They spent every moment of daylight devouring grasshoppers. Because we had so many chickens, my parents did a thriving business in eggs for a time. They made a trip about once a week to the Glad Valley store with a lumber wagon load of eggs—it seemed like hundreds of dozens of eggs. They probably got about eight cents per dozen for them, but that was big money back then. As long as the grasshoppers held out the chickens produced.
Mike Crowley Thursday, July 28, 2005