Inyan- oka-lo-ka / Medicine Rocks State Park

Traveling through southeastern Montana in 1883, naturalist, writer, and future United States President Theodore Roosevelt was struck by what he called the Medicine Buttes. He wrote, “Altogether it was as fantastically beautiful a place as I have ever seen: it seemed impossible that the hand of man should not have had something to do with its formation.” Indeed, mother nature spent millions of years crafting this landmark, but the hand of humans here cannot be ignored. Thousands of men and women recorded their history here, transforming the perforated sandstone monuments into a historical register with initials, names, dates, and images carved in soft stone. Petroglyphs of warriors and animals mark hundreds of years of use by indigenous people who harvested medicinal plants and performed ceremonies and religious rituals. The Lakota aptly named it “Inyan oka-lo-ka” or “Rock with a Hole in it.” European explorers, and later trappers and traders, passed through and left their marks in the early 1800s. Gold seekers came through after 1862, and then a steady influx of cowboys, ranchers, homesteaders, laborers, and tourists left basic but rich information that often connects them with pivotal state, national, and world events. County officials maintained the Medicine Rocks as a park beginning in the 1930s, and it became a Montana state park in 1957. The vast collection of inscriptions at Medicine Rocks serve as enticing clues about the history of human occupation here, and with more research can yield volumes about the cultural traditions and family histories of its visitors.

Images

Map

1141 Highway 7, Ekalaka, Montana ~ Public