On a mind-swept plateau atop Wyoming’s 10,000 foot Medicine Mountain, lies and ancient “Medicine Wheel.” At its center is a buffalo skull carefully placed within a rock mound. Twenty-eight spokes radiate out to a circle of limestone rocks about 80 feet in diameter.
The Medicine Wheel is the subject of numerous Native American legends. The Blackfeet, Bannock, Crow, Cree, Arapho and Cheyenne all calim traditional religious ties to the wheel and the mountain. But from the mid-1800s to 1934, practicing their beliefs was against the law. Even afterwood, elders remember hiding to prevent harassment by white visitors. Says John Hill, president of the Medicine Wheel Alliance (MWA), “That attitude prevailed, even into the 1950s.”