Stone Faces / by Brian Beck

After a whistle stop at Devil's Tower, we pounded out the last hundred miles of our drive from Yellowstone to collect Quimby in Rapid City at 9:30pm on Friday night.  I raced against the clock all day, digging my heel into the floorboard to urge the old engine over the high mountain passes where the air is thin and the views go on forever. We had already booked two nights in Deadwood, so with the kids fast asleep, Quimby slid into the old Pontiac at the airport and we headed back north to Deadwood.

This part of the country has four major attractions: the triple mining towns of Deadwood, Sturgis and Lead, Mount Rushmore, Wall Drug and the Badlands.  They are all quick visits and we squeezed Deadwood and Rushmore into Saturday and then headed out on a wide loop on Sunday to take in Wall Drug and the Badlands.  Of all the stops, Rushmore was the most impressive.  It was intended as a monument to the ages symbolizing the American experience and I'm quite sure that long after our republic has been forgotten, future people will admire these faces that stare proudly across the hills of South Dakota.  

Only a few miles away though is Crazy Horse, a monument intended as a similar memorial to the Native Americans who were displaced by our westward expansion.  I saw this monument 33 years ago and sadly it seems no further along; apart from a face, it's a rough block of granite.  The contrast couldn't be more stark.  Forgotten and ignored, it seems to be the perfect embodiment of the grievances of the Native Americans.  Lest our indifference toward these people be similarly bequeathed to posterity, we owe it to them to finish the job.