Medicine Wheel/Medicine Mountain National Historic Landmark

In August, a ceremony was held to celebrate the creation of the Medicine Wheel/Medicine Mountain National Historic Landmark in the Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming.

Up to now, the Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark had been designated as a landmark only for its archeological value and encompassed a 110 acre area around the Medicine Wheel. But the new NHL (National Historic Landmark,) recognizes the Bighorn Medicine Wheel and Medicine Mountain as a nationally significant site because of its traditional cultural value to many tribes, and includes more than 4,000 acres.

The article announcing this action claims this is the first Native American traditional cultural property to have been approved as a National Historic Landmark since the 1980 amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act that gave explicit recognition to NHLs and the 1983 regulations that established criteria and a process for creating new NHLs. Medicine Wheel Dedication Gang.

(I think though that a mountain sacred to the Kumeyaay Nation is on the National Registry of Historical Places, check out, and another site important to Indian peoples in New Jersey(?) and a few other locations might be on the list.)

The Association on American Indian Affairs (AAIA) worked with tribes for more than 20 years to protect Medicine Wheel and Medicine Mountain. AAIA represented the Medicine Wheel Coalition in negotiating with the United States Forest Service to develop a landmark Historic Preservation Plan (HPP) to protect this sacred site and in a court case brought by a logging company which challenged the HPP.

The Medicine Wheel is located in the Bighorn National Forest on the western peak of Medicine Mountain in the Bighorn Range east of Lovell, Wyoming. The 75-foot diameter Medicine Wheel is a roughly circular alignment of rocks and associated cairns enclosing 28 radial rows of rock extending out from a central cairn. This feature is part of a much larger complex of interrelated archeological sites and traditional use areas that express 7000 years of Native American adaptation to and use of the alpine landscape that surrounds Medicine Mountain.

Contemporary American Indian traditional use areas and features, including ceremonial staging areas, medicinal and ceremonial plant gathering areas, sweat lodge sites, altars, offering locales and fasting (vision quest) enclosures, can be found nearby. Ethnohistoric, ethnographic, and archeological evidence demonstrates that the Medicine Wheel and the surrounding landscape constitute one of the most important and well preserved ancient Native American sacred site complexes in North America. Between 70 and 150 wheels have been identified in South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Alberta, and Saskatchewan

Read more.

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