The Mystery of Devils Tower: Uncovering the Legends Behind the Scratches

The Devil's Tower is a remarkable monolith located in Wyoming, USA. It stands out for its unusual columns that bear a striking resemblance to claw marks. This has led to two great legends about the tower, one from the Sioux Lakota and the other from the Kiowa. Both stories involve a giant bear chasing after young girls, and the Great Spirit intervening to save them.

In the Sioux Lakota legend, six girls were picking flowers when they were attacked by a bear. The Great Spirit lifted the ground under their feet, forming the Devil's Tower. The bear kept trying to jump to the top of the rock, but simply scratched it and fell to the ground. This is why there are claw marks on the rock today.

The Kiowa legend is similar, but with some variations. It tells of a young woman who transforms into a bear and injures her sister while chasing her brothers. When her sister doesn't recover, “Bear-Girl” climbs to the top of Devils Tower, abandoning her family to keep them safe. The Cheyenne tell a story of a group of warriors who hunt and defeat a bear spirit who has been terrorizing one of the women of their tribe.

Although parts of the story change throughout different tribes of the region, each includes the presence of a giant bear or a group of bears to justify the vertical cracks along the surface of Devils Tower. Visitors can also see the star formation of the Big Dipper just above the tower in the night sky, along with many other important star clusters and constellations referenced by Native American culture. In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt declared Devils Tower as the first National Monument in the United States. It was also used as a landing site for aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. George Hopkins even parachuted to its top in 1941 and was stranded there for six days in cold, rain and 50 mph winds before being rescued. More than 20 Indian tribes consider Devils Tower a sacred site, where every June they come to celebrate their heritage by camping there to pray, fast and dance, as well as to perform rituals and funerals Sweat Lodge, Vision Quest. Although some details vary from tribe to tribe, many aspects of the Devil's Tower legend remain the same.

Some say that it is a volcanic plug, while others believe it is an ancient formation created by supernatural forces. Whatever its origin may be, it is clear that this remarkable monolith has been inspiring stories for centuries.

Roxanne Cotner
Roxanne Cotner

Incurable music nerd. Amateur pop culture specialist. General internet aficionado. Unapologetic web lover. Hipster-friendly bacon fanatic.