Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA
© Dennis Frates/Alam
Baddest of the badlands
Welcome to the vast, layered landscape of Badlands National Park, in the US state of South Dakota. The park protects 244,000 acres of eroded bedrock filled with fossil beds, not to mention the USA’s largest mixed-grass prairie, home to bison, prairie dogs and endangered black-footed ferrets.
This is Wild West country. During the late 1800s, settlers arrived in the American West to make a new life for themselves. But nomadic Native Americans had been calling the Badlands home for more than 10,000 years. By the late 19th century, many Lakota – the tribe which controlled the region - embraced a cross-tribal spiritual movement known as the Ghost Dance, which was believed to impede the encroachment of white settlers and save Native Americans.
By late 1890, just south of here, more than 250 unarmed Lakota men, women and children were killed by US forces in the Wounded Knee massacre, one of American history's ugliest chapters. November is Native American History Month in the US, where people will reflect on the conflict and ensuing tragedy.