Dakota Territory Times 2017 DTT 2017 - Page 7

Wasicu Wakan buried on Black Elk Peak Summer 2017 • Dakota Territory Times • Page 7 Near the top of Black Elk Peak, formerly Harney Peak, in Custer State Park is a brass grave marker inscribed Wa- sicu Wakan. Black Elk, the highest peak in the Black Hills, seemed an appropriate place to bury the ashes of Dr. Valentine McGillycuddy, whom the Na- tive Americans named Holy White Man (Wasicu Wakan). Dr. McGillycuddy was born at Racine, Wis., Feb., 14, 1849. In 1875, he accompa- nied the Jenny-Newton party as a topographer. The mission of this party was twofold: to survey and map the Black Hills, and to confirm reports of gold by Custer’s expedition a year ear- lier and to ascertain the quan- tity of gold. During this excursion McGillycuddy be- came the first white man to climb Black Elk Peak all the way to the summit. Others, including Custer a year earlier, had climbed most of the mountain but stopped when they reached the final granite cliff. McGillycuddy angled a felled tree into a crevice in the rocks and scrambled to the very top. In 1877, Crazy Horse was stabbed at Ft. Robinson, Neb. McGillycuddy was with him when he died. Later McGillycuddy re- ceived the Lakota name Tasunka Witko Kola, or Crazy Horse’s friend. From 1879 until 1886 McGillycuddy was an agent at the Pine Ridge Indian Agency. An advocate of education, he built a school for the children. The school staff decided the first order of business was a war on head lice. The only method they knew was to cut the students’ hair and comb or pick out the remaining nits. Someone screamed, “They are cutting the hair,” and par- ents and children ran in all di- rections. Eventually everyone calmed down, the situation was explained and school began. A few years after his wife died, McGillycuddy moved to San Francisco and continued his medical career. He married Julia Blanchard, the daughter of a trader. After McGillycuddy’s death in 1939, Julia wrote a book de- tailing his years at Pine Ridge. She titled the book the way he signed official agency paper- work: “McGillycuddy, Agent.” Dr. Valentine McGillycuddy, Wasicu Wakan, was an agent at the Pine Ridge Indian Agency.