Saturday, July 15, 2017

Jake Cosmos Aller

Rapid City No Where

Last summer

We drove across the country

Just the wife and me

10,000 miles

31 states

Three months on the road

I now know why people don’t live

In South Dakota

Hot, dry dusty

Windy as hell

Black Hills are nice

But after seeing Mt. Rushmore

There is not much left to do

Rapid City did not impress me

Nor did Sioux Falls

And wall drugs

Well the free water was nice

But it is a nothing town

In a nothing state

On the edge of the badlands

And the Sioux reservation

There is a reason the Indians live there

No one else wanted the land

And they are warehoused there

So I drove through Rapid City

And thought that it is the heart of Trump Land

The land of the forgotten

The left behind

Just another nothing burger of a State

In the middle of nowhere

Truly flyover country



  1. South Dakota and North Dakota, named after the Dakota tribes, simultaneously became states in 1889; bisected by the Missouri river, South Dakota is divided into two geographically and socially distinct halves, known to residents as "East River" and "West River." Eastern South Dakota is home to most of the state's population, including Sioux Falls, with a population of about 171,000, and the area's fertile soil is used to grow a variety of crops, while in the west (where Rapid City, the state's second largest, with 68,000 people, is located), ranching is the predominant agricultural activity, and the economy is more dependent on defense spending and tourism, especially Mount Rushmore, which attracts over 2 million visitors a year; the Black Hills, a group of low pine-covered mountains sacred to the Dakota ("Sioux"), are in the southwest part of the state, and most of the Native American reservations are in West River. In 1817, an American fur trading post was set up at present-day Fort Pierre, beginning continuous American settlement of the area. Land speculators founded Sioux Falls in 1856, and disppointed miners established Rapid City in 1876. In 1861 the US established the Dakota Territory, which also included parts of Montana and Wyoming. Maȟpíya Lúta ("Red Cloud") led the native residents in a fierce war (1866–1868) against railroad expansion into northeastern Wyoming and southern Montana; the largest action of the war, the Fetterman Fight, was the worst military defeat suffered by the US Army in the Great Plains until the battle of the Little Bighorn 10 years later. Maȟpíya Lúta's actions led to signing the Treaty of Fort Laramie which guaranteed tribal possession of West River and estblished the Great Sioux Reservation. Despite the treaty in 1874 George Armstrong Custer led a military survey expedition which led to the discovery of gold. Miners and land speculators illegally entered the area without any serious restrictive action by the army, leading to another war led by Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake (Sitting Bull) and Tȟašúŋke Witkó (Crazy Horse) that led to the destruction of the part of the Seventh Cavalry under Custer's command at the Little Big Horn in 1876. Nevertheless, the Dakota resistance was soon crushed and the Great Sioux Reservation was divided into five smaller reservations. In 1890 the Wounded Knee Massacre on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the last major armed conflict between the US and the Native Americans, was conducted by the Seventh Cavalry; it was sparked by the killing of Sitting Bull when he resisted arrest.

  2. Doane Robinson (actually Jonah, but nicknamed Doane because that was how his younger sister mispronounced his name), became the state's historian. After reading about Gutzon Borglum's gigantic carving of three Confederate leaders of the American Civil War (president Jefferson Davis and generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson) and their horses on the north face of Stone Mountain in Georgia, the largest bas-relief sculpture in the world, Robinson conceived the idea of sculpting several pillars made of granite, known as the Needles, into the likenesses of famous people associated with the state, such as Custer, Buffalo Bill Cody, Red Cloud, and Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, who led the Corps of Discovery Expedition into the western part of the United States. Due to strong opposition from Native American groups and the poor quality of the granite, Borglum persuaded Robinson to abandon the Needles in favor of Mt. Rushmore, which also had the advantage of facing southeast for maximum sun exposure, giving workers sunlight for most of the day. Known to the Dakota as "The Six Grandfathers," the mountain was named after Charles E. Rushmore during an 1885 prospecting expedition. The mountain had also figured in a noted spiritual journey undertaken in 1972 by Crazy Horse's second cousin Heȟáka Sápa (Black Elk) when he was nine: he had suddenly become seriously ill but had a vision in which he was visited by the Thunder Beings (Wakinyan), and taken to the Grandfathers — spiritual representatives of the six sacred directions: west, east, north, south, above, and below. "I saw more than I can tell and understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy."

  3. Borglum also persuaded Robinson to feature the heads of four American presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. (When Congress authorized the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Commission in 1925, president Calvin Coolidge insisted that, along with Washington, two Republicans and just one Democrat be portrayed.) Borglum created the sculpture's design and oversaw the project's execution from 1927-1941 with the help of his son, Lincoln. The project was declared finished in 1941 and had cost US$989,992.32. In 1931 Luther Standing Bear (Óta Kté [Plenty Kill], but also known as Matȟó Nážiŋ [Standing Bear]) suggested to Borglum that it would be "most fitting to have the face of Crazy Horse sculpted there. Crazy Horse is the real patriot of the Sioux tribe and the only one worthy to place by the side of Washington and Lincoln." Eight years later Luther's younger brother Henry (Matȟó Nážiŋ) contacted Korczak Ziolkowski, who had worked worked on Mt. Rushmore under Borglum, telling him, "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too." In 1948 Ziolkowski began carving Crazy Horse, riding a horse and pointing into the distance, on Thunderhead Mountain 17 mi (27 km) from Mt. Rushmore. AIM (the American Indian Movement) occupiedMt. Rushmore in 1971, naming it "Mount Crazy Horse," and John Fire Lame Deer planted a prayer staff atop the mountain, saying it formed a symbolic shroud over the presidents' faces "which shall remain dirty until the treaties concerning the Black Hills are fulfilled." When Ziolkowski died in 1982 at 74, his widow Ruth took charge and decided that Crazy Horse's face should be completed first (rather than his horse) in order to increase tourist interest and funding; when completed in 1998, the head measured 87 ft (27 m) high compared to the 60 ft (18 m) heads of the presidents; the sculpture's final dimensions are planned to be 641 ft (195 m) wide and 563 feet (172 m) high. Borglum had planned to make a secret room behind the hairline of Abraham Lincoln which was supposed to be a doorway to the "Hall of Records," a vault with 16 porcelain enamel panels with the texts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, biographies of the four presidents and Borglum, and the history of the US. It was left unfinished due to his death, but the vault was installed in 1998 after a decade of redevelopment. Ruth died in 2014 at 87 and was followed by her daughter Monique Ziolkowski.


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