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“Faces of Stone”: Historical and contemporary cultures of Paha Sapa (Black Hills of South Dakota), USA

Wednesday 23 August 2017 11:51am

PhD candidate

Will Stovall

Prof. James Higham (Tourism)
Dr. Janet Stephenson (Centre for Sustainability)

Project dates


Stovall National Park Service (360)

Conversations around honest historical reflection and commemoration are currently of international interest and relevance. Will Stovall’s research explores the human history and culture of Paha Sapa, a mountain range in the United States more commonly known as the Black Hills of South Dakota. From the end of the last ice age to the present, various traditions, languages, and subsistence strategies have been observed in Paha Sapa. However, the most dramatic cultural and technological shifts occurred within the past two-hundred years, as the region was rapidly and violently transformed from a sacred natural landscape to a colonial frontier settlement, and then from a frontier settlement to a tourism and recreational area.

Cultures of Paha Sapa

Will’s research employs the Cultures Framework to explore the norms, practices, and means of material fulfilment of three distinct cultural periods in the region. The core message of his thesis is that, while the current predominant culture of the region is racially and environmentally insensitive, the dynamic nature of the region’s past demonstrates that this is not set in stone. As Paha Sapa enters a new millennium, its thirteen-thousand-year legacy as a sacred landscape can provide the foundation for a more just, equitable, and sustainable future.