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A Badland History

South Dakota, July 1, 2016

The main reason to travel is to learn. And when you learn about something new, the experience becomes more vivid and the story about your experience becomes more impactful to tell. And here's my story. 

Many times, we get hung up in the ritual of traveling; 
We pack heavy. 
We experience long, exhausting travel days.
We check in to the hotel and exhale a sigh of relief that we've arrived. 
We take pictures. Lots of pictures. 
We open a bar tab. 
We join in on a group excursion. 
Repeat. 
Back to work.

But why is the the land there? How did it receive its name? Why are we actually standing on this place and Snapchatting the experience to our friends? 

  Skyler  taking in her surroundings.

Skyler taking in her surroundings.

Upon visiting Badlands National Park, we needed more. We knew the indians traversed these lands, but why? It was brutal and unforgiving. After our Badlands adventure we drove west towards the Black Hills, South Dakota in search of any indian museum we could find. We saw advertisements for the Lakota Tribe museum and immediately headed in that direction. It felt like we had to pay tribute to those who were here before us. To those souls that once roamed these lands and no longer existed.  

 My  tacoma  packed and ready. 

My tacoma packed and ready. 

 Heading west. 

Heading west. 

The museum, and further readings, revealed a lot. The Lakota people were part of the Sioux Tribe- the tribe that gave our government the most problems in the 1800's. They didn't trust us, and they were willing to brutally fight to protect the lands they had. Eventually, as part of a treaty, the Lakota were given a large chunk of Western South Dakota to call home. The Badlands were part of that treaty and the Lakota named the rugged landscape perfectly, "Mako Sica" or "Land Bad". But, President Lincoln eventually reneged that agreement and signed The Homestead Act of 1862. The American people were pushing west at that time and wanted the western territories of South Dakota, so the Homestead Act gave them permission to pursue those lands despite being previously designated as reservations. 

 Lakota Warrior. 

Lakota Warrior. 

 Skyler found home. 

Skyler found home. 

So, as history would have it, Badlands National Park got its named from the Lakota Tribe who, most likely, regretfully named the land after being forced to accept it. And the rest is history.  


Dylan Melcher