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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October 09, 2006
More Thunder Butte Poetry
Here's a poem written by cowboy poet, John Crowley, that describes a real event one night years ago at the family's homestead on Thunder Butte Creek:
NIGHT ON THUNDER BUTTE CREEK
The blackness of the night wrapped around us like a shroud,
Clammy and evil, full of dreadful sound
The scream of woman with mortal wounds
Full of snickering--Why? I only wish to live the night
To not succumb in fear to this anguish all about
The creek called Thunder Butte, runs full and rippling in the dark
Forested thick with trees that screen the evil lurking there
There eyes glow fierce, then disappear amid the undergrowth
But howls persist, like the banshee of legends mark
She comforts me, but trembles as the panther tears and rips
The splintering roof, starved and after one fat child.
I'm crying now, and clutch my mom, the one protection from
This demon of the night who will not stop until he's done, but
A little shanty ranch house can`t withstand the onslaught of this
mad gargoyle tearing there, one thought in mind, only one
This fat child and why he fears the dark.
My mother not yet done, grabs an old and rusty 12 gauge gun from
Beside the bed, one loud explosion, blasting these little ears
Another hole appears, the moon shines through our flimsy roof
Where panther and twelve gauge spanned the years, to spell
Out doom for that old puma, sobbing, snarling off into the gloom.
Mike Crowley Monday, October 09, 2006