And now:Ish <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> writes:

From: Pat Morris <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>

  Expansion of Medicine
  Wheel site suggested
  Gazette Wyoming Bureau 
LOVELL, Wyo. - A new study of traditional Native American use of the Medicine Wheel 
National Historic Landmark in the Bighorn Mountains concludes that for American 
Indians, the site's cultural values extend far beyond the ancient stone structure to 
envelop the entire "spiritual landscape" of Medicine Mountain.

The study, in the form of a nomination to the National Register of Historic Places, 
recommends expanding the current 110-acre National Historic Landmark to 15,230 acres 
of the Bighorn National Forest. The increased acreage would take in many associated 
archaeological sites such as traditional campsites, trails and medicinal plant 
gathering sites.

"The Medicine Wheel itself is not the main event up there, the main event is the 
landscape if you're a Native American," said archaeologist Fred Chapman of the Wyoming 
State Historic Preservation Office and an author of the nomination. "There's nothing 
else really like this in the West in terms of a concentration of archaeological sites 
and continuing traditional uses."

Expanding the boundaries of the National Historic Landmark would recognize the 
importance of those sites without imposing any restrictions on land use not already 
spelled out in a Historic Preservation Plan signed by state, local, federal and tribal 
groups in 1996, Chapman said.

But the proposed boundary expansion is already generating criticism in Lovell, where 
residents fear it will limit their access to national forest lands long used for 
grazing, logging and recreation.

"I think it's a crime against everyone who lives in the area to try to set aside 
15,000 acres for the Medicine Wheel when we've gotten along with 100-plus acres for 
all this time," said Cal Taggart, who while mayor of Lovell in the late 1960s pushed 
for designation of the original 110-acre National Historic Landmark including the 
Medicine Wheel.

"They're distorting what this site is all about by saying it's just a sacred site for 
the Indians," he said. "I don't care if the Indians pray up there or anyone prays up 
there, but I don't think it ought to be set aside for any group, whether it's Mormons 
or Baptists or Lutherans or anything else."

Although the origin of the Medicine Wheel remains a mystery, many Native American 
tribes consider the wagon-wheel-shaped stone structure on a windswept ridge below the 
peak of Medicine Mountain to be a sacred site. Debate over proposals to improve the 
site with additional visitor facilities finally led to the 1996 Historic Preservation 
Plan, under which the Forest Service must consult local and state agencies and tribal 
groups on any plans for logging or other development within a 23,000-acre "viewshed" 
surrounding the Medicine Wheel.

Wyoming Sawmills of Sheridan earlier this year sued the Forest Service, arguing that 
the Historic Preservation Plan has hampered logging opportunities on lands long 
designated for multiple use. The lawsuit is still pending.

The Historic Preservation Plan also called for revising the Medicine Wheel's 
nomination to the National Register of Historic Sites based on a comprehensive survey 
of traditional Native American use of the site - called an "ethnographic survey."

The results of that survey make up the bulk of the 100-page nomination completed by 
Chapman, anthropologist James Boggs of Missoula, Mont., and Robert G. York of the 
Northern Mariana Islands Museum of History and Culture in Saipan. They say that 
archaeological evidence and their many interviews with tribal members and local 
residents document longstanding Native American use of the Medicine Wheel and Medicine 

The authors are now soliciting comments from the parties to the Historic Preservation 
Plan and the public and will then submit a final version of the nomination to the 
Forest Service. It will then be up to the Forest Service to submit the nomination to 
the National Park Service, which maintains the National Register of Historic Places.

Copies of the document are available from the Forest Service, although the locations 
of archaeological sites and the names of Native Americans quoted are blacked out.

A public meeting to discuss the nomination is scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight at the Big 
Horn County Annex in Lovell.

"Contemporary traditional Native Americans generally venerate the Medicine Wheel 
because it embodies uniquely important and powerful spiritual principles that figure 
prominently in tribal, family and band-specific oral and ceremonial traditions," the 
nomination says. "To many Native Americans, Medicine Mountain as a whole constitutes a 
highly differentiated and complex sacred geography."

While the Medicine Wheel itself is the most visible sign of ceremonial use of the area 
and is the prime attraction for the 15,000 or so tourists who visit annually, its 
cultural significance extends over a far broader area, the document says.

"Most knowledgeable Indian traditional practitioners regard the Medicine Wheel as an 
essential but secondary component of a much larger spiritual landscape composed of the 
surrounding alpine forests and mountain peaks," it says. "In 1998, 841 Native 
Americans from 89 tribes conducted ceremonies at or near the Medicine Wheel."

The team that completed the ethnographic survey originally had no idea how large the 
"spiritual landscape" would turn out to be, Boggs said.

"We weren't aiming for any traditional acreage - we took different aspects of the 
landscape that emerged as important to the Native American people who came to the 
mountain and put those together," he said. "Everybody thought the Medicine Wheel was 
the focus, since that was what drew the attention of non-Indian people to begin with, 
but the Medicine Wheel is more like an altar to the mountain - it was a kind of symbol 
of the mountain's importance."

He said the mountains have religious importance in the Bible, too.

The Medicine Wheel was never intended as a static object or monument, but a kind of 
living structure that could be altered and supplemented over time, he said.

Surrounding features such as springs on the south face of Medicine Mountain, trails 
that led longtime users of the Medicine Wheel up and down the mountain and campsites 
used by Native Americans while visiting the Wheel also deserve inclusion in the 
National Historic Landmark, he said.

Such features are important not only for their archaeological value, but also for 
their modern role in continuing Native American traditions such as vision quests, he 

"None of the tribes we encountered, except perhaps the Northern Arapaho, maintains 
worship at Medicine Mountain as an aspect of what could in any sense be called its 
'tribal religion,' " the ethnographic section of the nomination says. "Indeed, much of 
Native American religion is not what Euro-Americans call 'organized religion.'

"Traditional cultural knowledge about Medicine Mountain is often transmitted within 
families, or from Elder to youngster, from teacher to student, rather than as part of 
organized bodies of knowledge distinctly representative of different tribes," the 
document says.

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