Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Badlands Or Bad Lands

A view of Painted Canyon at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Badlands Or Bad Lands
Little Missouri Country

By Dakota Wind
Great Plains, ND (TFS) – The landscape is beautiful. Beautiful in the sense that the renaissance poet might say it was beautiful because it required a balance of placement, light, color, and time. It’s beautiful in the sense that the Lakȟóta looked at it and saw that it was inherently good, because good is beautiful. Creation is good.

Over at The Prairie Blog, author and moderator, Mr. Jim Fuglie, features a breakdown about the Badlands, or Bad Lands, if you prefer. There are readers, North Dakota citizens, and out-of-state people who are drawn to one way it's written or the other. In his article, Mr. Fuglie draws on the Lakȟóta place name for the Badlands National Park about this kind of landscape:

Why is it called the Badlands?

The Lakota people were the first to call this place “mako sica” or “land bad.” Extreme temperatures, lack of water, and the exposed rugged terrain led to this name. In the early 1900’s, French-Canadian fur trappers called it “les mauvais terres pour traverse,” or “bad lands to travel through.”

“Today, the term badlands has a more geologic definition. Badlands form when soft sedimentary rock is extensively eroded in a dry climate. The park’s typical scenery of sharp spires, gullies, and ridges is a premier example of badlands topography.”


The Lakȟóta word for land, country, or earth, is Makȟá. The Lakȟóta word for bad is ŠíčA. When the word Makȟá is compounded with ŠíčA, it becomes Makȟóšica. It would seem then, that the written proper name if one needs proper, is Badlands. ŠíčA doesn’t mean bad in the sense that the land isn’t productive, the land was/is quite good for hunting deer, elk, bison, and at one time the bighorn sheep, and might serve as a descriptor of how the landscape appeared, but the land itself wasn’t “bad.” There was something there that was malevolent and dark.


A Tyrannosaurus Rex, as featured at Dinopedia

The erosion of the landscape in the various badland formations tends to reveal fossilized dinosaur remains. The Lakȟóta refer to the great serpents as Uŋktéǧi, a twisted creation of Uŋčí Makȟá (Grandmother Earth). In the early days, after creation, they say these Uŋktéǧi ate people or caused people to mysteriously disappear. Íŋyaŋ, Stone, created WakÍŋyaŋ, the Flying Ones, to do battle with the Uŋktéǧi. WakÍŋyaŋ fly in from the west, terrible lightning flashes from their eyes, and wind gusts from each stroke of their wings, as they cleanse Makȟóčhe Wašté, the Beautiful Country (Great Plains; North America).

The Lakȟóta also name the regions of Makȟóčhe Wašté by the name of the stream which flows through it. The Little Missouri River is known to the Lakȟóta as Čhaŋšótka Wakpá, or Charred Woods River. The Badlands, by this place name method, is called Čhaŋšótka Wakpá Makȟóčhe, meaning Charred Wood River Country. They might call it this if born in that country. In everyday speech, however, the Lakȟóta would call it Makȟóšica.

Mr. Fuglie knows that it isn’t worth the energy to argue about the semantics of Badlands vs. Bad Lands (he prefers two separate words). The better question to ask, and perhaps argue over, would be, “what does the Badlands mean to you?”

See also:
The Sheyenne River Or The Cheyenne River

How To Pronounce Oahe


Visit:

Theodore Roosevelt National Park
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Glossary:


Čhaŋšótka Wakpá (chahn-SHOHT-kah wahk-PAH): Charred Woods River

Íŋyaŋ (EEN-yahn): Stone

Lakȟóta (lah-KHOH-tah): lit. “Affection.” Friend or Ally

Makȟá (mah-KHAH): Earth

Makȟóčhe Wašté (mah-KHOH-chay wash-TAY): The Beautiful Country, Great Plains, North America

Makȟóšica (mah-KHOH-shee-chah): Badlands

ŠíčA (SHEE-chah): Bad

Uŋčí (oon-CHEE): Grandmother

Uŋktéǧi (oonk-TAY-ghee): Serpents, or Dinosaurs

WakÍŋyaŋ (wah-KEEN-yah): Winged Ones, Thunder

Wakpá (wahk-PAH): River




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