Harney Peak – to be Renamed Black Elk Peak – is South Dakota’s tallest peak at 7,244 feet.
Peak named for Army General William Harney who murdered Native women and children.
Published August 12, 2016
WASHINGTON— On Thursday, August 11, 2016, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names decided by a 12 – 0, with one abstention vote, to rename Harney Peak in South Dakota to Black Elk Peak.
The name change received immediate resistance from South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard, who released a statement that said the name change will cause “unnecessary expense and confusion.”
The newly named Black Elk Peak is the tallest peak in South Dakota that is located in the Black Hills National Forest.
“I suspect very few people know the history of either Harney or Black Elk,” Daugaard said in a statement.
While the governor suspects few people are aware of Harney, American Indians advocated for the name change because Army General William Harney, who the peak was named, had his men murder American Indian women and children in 1855.
Republican U.S. Sen. John Thune commented in a statement that the federal board’s decision was “unilateral” and “defies logic” because it is contrary to state officials’ recommendations.
“In this case, the board felt that the name was derogatory or offensive being that it was on a holy site of the Native Americans,” said Lou Yost, the federal board’s executive secretary for domestic names.
Black Elk was a famous medicine man and holy man of the Oglala Lakota in South Dakota. He was a cousin of Crazy Horse.