Lakota Country Times: Name board caves to non-Native pressure

The following article was written and reported by Lakota Country Times editor Brandon Ecoffey. For more news, subscribe to the Lakota Country Times today. All content © Lakota Country Times.

A view of Harney Peak in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Photo by Jimmy Emerson, DVM / Flickr

State board cows to public
Recommends leaving Harney Peal as is
By Brandon Ecoffey
LCT Editor

PIERRE—On Monday, June 29, the South Dakota Board on Geographic Names voted to recommend that Harney Peak should not be renamed.

In a vote of 4-1 the board chose to dismiss any possibility of supporting efforts that would rename the highest peak in South Dakota, "Hinhan Kaga (Making of Owls)."

The name change had been pursued by a number of Native groups who believed that the historical record of William S. Harney, a U.S. Army general, a well-known Indian fighter did not warrant the designation of marking the 7,242-foot mountain located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Land that is considering sacred by surrounding tribal nations.

The recommendation in support of leaving the name as is came about as Board members cowed to public pressure from non-Natives in the state.

The recommendation will now be sent to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names where a final decision will be made however, the vote from the South Dakota Board on Names is likely to push the federal board to leave the peak named after Harney.

One final alternative name is still possible as supporters of renaming the peak will hope to sway the state board to review a proposal to rename the site Black Elk Peak.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at

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