The star cluster referred to as Pleiades has a strong connection to Devils Tower in the Black Hills of Wyoming, USA. There are several legends about the Pleiades and Devils Tower and how they came to be.
Looking southeast in the early morning hours I saw them -- the Seven Sisters, sitting peacefully together, safe from danger. They have become a beautiful star cluster and celestial ancestors. They are the constellation of Pleiades which can be found next to Taurus the Bull at his shoulder blade. The sisters found this haven of safety with the help of Devils Tower, a huge rock they climbed upon that rose ever higher till they were able to sit together forever in the heavenly sky.
The Seven Sisters venture out at night to gaze upon their beloved Mother Earth. Many Native American tribes have their own ancient story about the Pleiades. The Hopi tribe conducted sacred ceremonies when Pleiades passed over the center of the opening of their main Kiva, an underground meeting place used for ceremonial purposes. The Blackfoot tribe has a legend that some orphans that were not cared for by the people became stars. The only friends of the orphans were the dogs. Grandfather Sun was angered by the mistreatment of the children and punished the people with a drought.
The Lakota Tribe and the Kiowa Tribe have a similar mythical story of the Seven Sisters. According to legend, there were seven young maidens who went out to play. Several giant bears saw them and began to give chase. To escape from the bears and certain death, the maidens climbed on top of a rock and prayed to the spirit of the rock for safety.
Hearing the pleas of the maidens, the rock began to rise from the ground towards the Heavens, so that the bears could not reach them. After reaching the sky, the seven maidens became a cluster of stars. The bears, trying to climb the rock kept sliding back down the steep sides, leaving deep claw marks in the rock. The rock became known as "Devils Tower". Devils Tower is now a monument in the state of Wyoming. It was the first declared United States National Monument on September 24, 1906, by President Theodore Roosevelt. It's boundary encloses an area of 1,347 acres. At least 400,000 visitors annually come to climb this famous mountain.
Before European contact, tribes such as the Lakota, Kiowa, Arapaho, Crow, Cheyenne, and Shoshone all had cultural and geographical ties to the rock. The Cheyenne and Crow called it Bear's House, or Bear's Lair; Some Cheyenne and Lakota named it Bear's Lodge, or Bear's Lodge Butte. The Arapaho called it Bear's Tipi, and the Kiowa called it Tree Rock. Apparently, the name Devils Tower came from a misinterpretation of "Bad God's Tower" by an aide of Colonel Richard Irving Dodge in 1875 when on a geological survey expedition. The name stuck and the apostrophe was eliminated per a geographic naming standard.
Red sandstone and siltstone cliffs majestically tower above the Belle Fourche River in Wyoming. Located in the Black Hills near Hulett and Sundance, Devils Tower rises up to 5,112 feet above sea level towards the sky. It is an amazing and profound site to gaze upon.
The oldest rocks visible in Devils Tower National Monument were laid down in a shallow sea during the Triassic period, 225 to 195 million years ago. This dark red sandstone and maroon siltstone, inter bedded with shale, can be seen along the Belle Fourche River. Oxidation of iron minerals causes the redness of the rocks. This rock layer is known as the Spearfish Formation.
I watched the Seven Sisters until the dawn began to rise, thinking of all they must have seen over the centuries they have clustered there. As I finished my tea, the Seven Sisters quietly retreated as Grandfather Sun began his daily slow journey from beyond the horizon.
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I originally wrote this article in late 2007 for the Native American site here at BellaOnline. I am reintroducing it here for the Folklore site under the Native American Legends category.