The Lakota call
it Mato Tipila, which means "Bear Lodge."
Other names are Grey Horn Butte, "He Hota Paha", or Bear
The Legend of its creation:
Tower, with the Belle Fourche River in the foreground.
Wyoming Official State Travel Website.
Long ago, two young boys found themselves lost on the great
prairie. They had played together one afternoon and had wandered
far out of the village. Then they had shot their bows still farther
out into the sagebrush. Then they had heard a small animal make
a noise and had gone to investigate. They had come to a stream with
many colorful pebbles and followed that for a while. They had come
to a hill and wanted to see what was on the other side. On the other
side they saw a herd of antelope and, of course, had to track them
for a while. When they got hungry and thought it was time to go
home, the two boys found that they didn't know where they were.
They started off in the direction where they thought their village
was, but only got farther and farther away from it. At last they
curled up beneath a tree and went to sleep.They got up the next
morning and walked some more, still traveling the wrong way. They
ate some wild berries and dug up wild turnips, found some chokecherries,
and drank water from streams. For three days they walked toward
the west. They were footsore, but they survived. How they wished
that their parents, or elder brothers and sisters or tribe would
find them as they walked on what is now the plains of Wyoming. But
nobody did.On the fourth day the boys suddenly had a feeling that
they were being followed. They looked around and in the distance
saw Mato, the bear. This was no ordinary bear, but a giant bear,
so huge that the boys would make only a small mouthful for him.
He had smelled the boys and came in search of that mouthful. He
came so close that the earth trembled with each step he took.The
boys started running, looking for a place to hide, they found none.
The grizzly was much much faster than they. They stumbled, and the
bear was almost upon them. They could see his red, wide-open jaws
full of enormous teeth. They could smell and feel his hot breath.The
boys were old enough to have learned to pray, and they called upon
Wakan Tanka, the Creator: "Tunkashila, Grandfather, have pity,
save us." All at once the earth shook and began to rise. The
boys rose with it. Out of the earth came a cone of rock going up,
up, up until it rose more than a thousand feet high, and the boys
were on top of it. Mato the bear was disappointed to see his meal
disappearing into the clouds. This grizzly was so huge that he could
almost reach to the top of the rock when he stood on his hind legs.
His claws were as large as a tipi's lodge poles. Frantically Mato
dug his claws into the side of the rock, trying to get up, trying
to eat those boys. As he did so, he made big scratches in the sides
of the towering rock. He tried every spot, every side. He scratched
up the rock all around, but it was no use. They boys watched him
wearing himself out, getting tired, giving up. They finally saw
him going away, a huge, growling, grunting mountain disappearing
over the horizon. The boys were saved by Wanblee, the eagle, who
has always been a relative to our people. It was the great eagle
that let the boys grab hold of him and he carried them safely back
to their village.
This is just one version of many!