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  • Badlands National Park History

    Badlands National Park History
    Badlands National Park encompasses 244,000 acres in South Dakota of grass prairies and eroded rock formations. It is a center of paleontological significance, with countless fossils of prehistoric animals found within its borders.

    Early Peoples

    Mammoth hunters were most likely the first humans to call this area home followed by nomadic tribes. The Lakotas, in the middle of the 1700s, eventually supplanted the Arikara tribe.

    White Settlers

    The advancement of civilization led by French trappers in the early part of the 19th century gradually signaled the end of Native American domination of the badlands, with the Lakota forced onto reservations by the time the 20th century arrived.

    Mako Sica

    The Lakotas gave the area its name, calling it mako sica, which translates into "land bad." Today, a badlands describes a dry region of rugged terrain that offers a terrific challenge to cross. On March 4, 1929, the region became Badlands National Monument.

    Adding Acreage

    The United States Air Force used as much as 130,000 acres of the badlands as a bombing range---land that Congress added to the park in the late 1960s.

    National Park

    On Nov. 10, 1978, the United States Congress designated the area as Badlands National Park.

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