Adam Rossi

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Forest Resource Management

Committee Chair

David Smaldone

Committee Co-Chair

Chad Pierskalla

Committee Member

Steven Selin


Wind Cave National Park, located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, has a long and complex history concerning local indigenous peoples, including the Lakotas. Wind Cave is the location of the Lakotas' traditional origin story, and is now protected by a park that represents a federal government that many indigenous peoples of this country view negatively. Despite this, no study has attempted to characterize attitudes of local indigenous people towards the park. Recommendations from an earlier study encourage the park to collaborate closely with local indigenous tribes, and it would be beneficial for the park to have an understanding of the attitudes of these people. The purpose of this study is to begin to characterize the attitudes of Lakotas toward Wind Cave National Park. Seventeen interviews were conducted with Lakota people to better understand their thoughts and feelings about the park. The transcripts of these interviews were content analyzed, and several themes emerged. Negative themes included lack of Lakota perspectives in park interpretation, fees for cave tours, the tourist attraction nature of Wind Cave, and violation of a historic treaty. Positive themes included preservation, openness about non-indigenous tourists entering Wind Cave, and improvement in interpretation. Younger interviewees generally spoke more favorably of the park than older interviewees. The major finding is that the park needs to include more Native voice in its interpretation. Suggestions for accomplishing this include incorporating more cultural perspectives on cave tours and in Visitor Center exhibits, hiring more indigenous staff members, and inviting tribal members to the park for guest presentations. The park should work closely with Lakota and other local tribes, and can follow the example of other National Park Service sites to accomplish these changes.