Devils Tower Natural History Association (Devils Tower, WY)


            Woman at a long table working on beadwork before a crowd of onlookers

Wendy Hackwith demonstrating traditional appliqué style beadwork. Photo courtesy of Devils Tower Natural History Association.

Although it is known as Devils Tower to most, to several Northern Plains Indian Tribes the 1,267-foot mountain is known as Bear's Lodge or Bear's Tipi, a sacred site for Native Americans and an important landmark in many tribal narratives. In response to a mandate that designated Devils Tower as a protected sacred site, the Devils Tower Natural History Association (DTNHA) created a Native-American heritage weekend to educate visitors, participants, area residents, and others who use the site about the culture of the Northern Plains Indian Tribes and the significance of Devils Tower to that culture. The heritage weekend is part of the organization's Cultural and Natural History Program Series, which runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day and comprises approximately 15 presentations on topics ranging from technical rock climbing to western history, culminating with the Cowboy Poet Festival.

In FY 2006, DTNHA received an NEA Access to Artistic Excellence grant of $10,000 to support the heritage weekend, which took place August 25-27, 2006. Activities included presentations, performances, and ongoing arts and culture demonstrations by Native-American craftspeople, musicians, dancers, and historians. Crafts demonstrated during the weekend included beadwork, star blanket weaving, pipe carving, the making of traditional powwow regalia, flute carving, and the making of burden baskets. Speakers and performers included the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Dancers, flute player and educator David Wolfs Robe, musician and hoop dancer Kevin Locke (1990 NEA National Heritage Fellow), and songwriter and storyteller Jack Gladstone. More than 400 visitors attended the heritage weekend, despite inclement weather.

(From the NEA 2006 Annual Report)