In a move nobody expected the U.S. Board of Geographic Names voted Thursday, August 11, to rename Harney Peak to Black Elk Peak.
The discussion has gone on for years and even the South Dakota Board as well as the South Dakota Department of Tourism and the Department of Game, Fish and Parks earlier this year did not support the move.
South Dakota Senator John Thune issued a press release opposing the move.
I’m surprised and upset by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names’ unilateral decision to rename Harney Peak, one of South Dakota’s most well-known landmarks,” said Thune. “The national board’s choice to reject the state’s recommendation to leave the name as-is defies logic, since it was state officials who so carefully solicited public feedback and ultimately came to their decision. I’m also disappointed the board grossly misled my office with respect to the timeline of its decision, which wasn’t expected until next year.
The minutes of the Aug 11 meeting have not been posted yet. When they are they will be posted here.
82-year-old Basil Brave Heart, who lives on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, who started pushing for the name change in 2014, said the decision “represents compassion, forgiveness and reconciliation.” William S. Harney had massacred Sioux in 1855 in the Battle of Ash Hollow
Black Elk was known for his visions and was a second cousin of Crazy Horse.