The Native American Story
Today you are visiting the land of the Crow, Land we have said, it is our home for hundreds of years.
While visiting the home of the Crow Indians, we say if you don't understand it, Respect it.
The Crow said that all the land that the water drains to the Echata River is their land, an area of thirty eight million acres. This was the entire length of the Yellowstone River, The Clarks Fork River, Big Horn River, Little Bighorn River, Tongue River and Powder River. Are all major rivers that flow to the Yellowstone River.
There were three bands of Crow Indians, The Kick In the Belly, east of the Big Horn Mountains, The Mountain Crow that lived in the Big Horn and Absalaga Mountains.
Today you are on a site that was used by the different tribes of Indians that came to hunt and take buffalo for food and shelter on the Echata River. (Elk River) While they were here on the Pillar they do prayers or vision quests. The French changed the name of the River Rochejhone (Yellow Rock) then it was named the Yellowstone River.
The Crow Indian people used the Pillar to do a vision quest and as a prayer site. A vision quest was done at different times of your life when you needed guidance.
The Crow Indians called the Pillar the place where the Mountain Lion lives. This was because there is a natural head of a lion in the sandstone on the north face of the Pillar.
The lions head looked out over the site of the Lone Tree, another name the Crow called this place. The Lone Tree was where Father DeSmet first met with the Crow and introduced them to the Catholic Religion in August of 1848. DeSmet was asked by the Crow to visit them.
Captain William Clark and ten men, a women and child and his Black servant crossed over the pass into the Yellowstone Valley with forty nine horses and one colt on July 15 1806. That day they entered Crow Country, This was Crow land and they did not allow anyone to come and stay permanently. The Crow allowed friends and enemies to come to their land to hunt as they had the best hunting grounds. To come to gather food was not considered aggression. Larouque had wintered with the Crow in the winter of 1805-1806 and had been turned down by Lewis and Clark to journey with them to the Pacific Ocean. From him being with the Crow we would surmise that some of them would have known about the Lewis and Clark Journey. Clark had seen smoke when they were traveling down the Yellowstone Valley and thought it was from Crow villages. Clark had prepared a speech to give to the Crow, He never met with the Crow to give this talk. His only contact with the Crow was when he was parted with twenty four horses on the night of July 21st 1806. When the camp awoke that morning they searched for the missing horses and did not find them. The next day tracks were found going east and moving fast, Clark then surmised that the Crow had taken the horses.The Crow captured horses as a feat of honor. One of the four things a person had to do to become a Crow Chief was to Capture a horse from within an enemy's camp. They did not consider horse thievery a dishonorable thing to do.
At this camp Clark had the canoes built and parted with Sergeant Pryor on July the 23rd. Pryor met with Clark at the mouth of the Clarks Fork River that evening and told Clark he needed more help to drive the horses as they wanted to chase buffalo and he could not control them. The next morning Pryor and three men left with the horses to take them to the Mandan. On the second night out from the Rochejhone River Pryor camped on a dry creek and awoke in the morning to find that all the horses were missing. After a search he concluded that the Crow Indians had captured the remainder of the horses that were to be taken to the Mandan. He then traveled down this dry creek to the Yellowstone River just below Pompeys Pillar and concluded that Clark had already gone down river. Pryor's camp was about 20 miles south of the Pillar where he lost the horses.
When Clark visited the Pillar he noted that there was Indian art on the rock near where he carved his name. Clark was in Crow Country for his entire journey down the Yellowstone River.
When you visit the Pillar it needs to be treated with respect for it is a religious site for the Crow Indians. The Crow Indians are a tribe of nine thousand today. In 1906 the land along the Yellowstone River was ceded away from the Crow Indians by treaty and the Pillar was no longer with in our reservation boundaries. We as Crow Indians say that the original thirty eight million acres of land is consecrated land for the Crow and is still claimed as our land. As Curly Crow Scout with Custer said in 1912 at a hearing.
The Crow nation is consecrated with the remains of our decendants.
You have to dig into the earth a long ways as the top layers are the remains of the Crow. And as long as there are Crow we shall claim this land as ours.
Howard Boggess, Crow Historian, Member Crow Tribe of Indians