“Mis-Identity” Exhibit Highlights Devils Tower
Written by Andrew-Rossi on April 16, 2018
An exhibit at a downtown retail store in Cody highlights a controversial decision that’s being considered in Congress that could deny Native Americans the right to correct a historical error.
Legislation being debated in the US Congress would deny Native Americans the right to ever change the name of the iconic geological feature Devils Tower to “Bear Lodge,” a name that leaders of two Sioux tribes say would be more historically and traditionally accurate.
On KODI’s Partyline show last week, religious historian Mary Keller told listeners that the name “Devils Tower” was never correct, and in fact, came about because of two separate errors.
However, despite the inaccuracies, legislation was introduced both in the Senate and House to retain the name Devils Tower, citing the impact of tourism to the state because of the national monument. Although initially introduced by former representative Cynthia Lummis, Congresswoman Liz Cheney is joining with Wyoming Senators John Barrasso and Mike Enzi to support the bill that would protect the name “Devils Tower.”
But Keller says the name is actually insulting to Native Americans.
Additionally, Keller says there is historical precedent that shows that changing the name of a famous monument or geological feature does not harm tourism, citing the recent name change of Mt. McKinley in Alaska to Denali, among other reversals.
An exhibit at The Thistle on Rumsey Avenue in Cody highlights the history and tradition of the Native American name, Bear Lodge, and encourages conversation about the debate.