Saturday, January 23, 2016

Names in the Park

Three picnic shelters on the east side, built by the CCC, are named after famous Indians that once roamed the area. The following is an excerpt from my book, The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Building of Guernsey State Park.

 Nothing is recorded as to why the use of Native Indian leader’s names in the park stopped with these three structures, but nowhere else in the park is anything named after Native people. Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, and Spotted Tail, along with Gaul and Crazy Horse are among the most well-known Indian leaders in the west.
Sitting Bull
Red Cloud was best known for his war against people traveling the Bozeman Trail. He also fought against the forts protecting the trail. After a disastrous defeat at the Wagon Box Fight, near Fort Phil Kearny, Red Cloud turned his efforts to peace. His peace efforts made him most popular with settlers and travelers, along with some of his tribe, but these efforts also alienated him from some of his people. Sitting Bull was a Lakota Holy Man and respected leader, most forceful during the time of Crazy Horse. Sitting Bull, although he did not take part in the massacre, was instrumental when Colonel Custer and the 7th Cavalry were wiped out on the Greasy Grass River, the river the soldiers called the Little Big Horn. Later Sitting Bull traveled to Europe with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.  He was murdered at Wounded Knee South Dakota shortly before the December 1890 massacre.
Fire Place at Red Cloud
Spotted Tail seems an odd choice for the third Indian name used in the park. Considering fame only, it seems Crazy Horse would have been the choice instead of Spotted Tail. He was likely chosen because he had taken part in the nearby Grattan Massacre. By the time of Red Cloud’s War Spotted Tail refused to fight, telling his people he would not lead braves into battle and that he now considered peace the better option. Conceivably it was because of this peaceful stance and not his earlier status as a warrior that he was chosen to be immortalized in the park.
The incredible fresh water station at Spotted Tail