Hate group tags Apsaalooke site in Montana

Big Sky Active Club takes credit on social media for vandalism

The Four Dances area in Montana. (Photo by Adria Jawort)

A white nationalist group appears to have taken credit for etching Nazi symbols on an outdoor recreational area managed by the Bureau of Land Management and named after a prominent Crow leader.

The BLM confirmed that it is investigating graffiti carved into the Four Dances area, which is located approximately three miles south of Billings, Mont. The Big Sky Active Club said on its Gab social media account: “BSAC went on a hike and etched our message in stone. Tribe up or die.”

Big Sky Active Club is a group linked to white supremacists.

The carving showed a swastika with the number 14/88, a popular white supremacist symbol that refers to the “14 words” slogan and 88, a numerical reference to the “Heil Hitler” chant used by Nazis and other hate groups, according to the Anti-Defamation League. A second set of carving shows the “SS” lightning bolts.

“The SS Bolts are a common white supremacist/neo-Nazi symbol derived from Schutzstaffel (SS) of Nazi Germany,” said a reference article on white hate by the ADL. “The SS, led by Heinrich Himmler, maintained the police state of Nazi Germany. Its members ranged from agents of the Gestapo to soldiers of the Waffen (armed) SS to guards at concentration and death camps.”

Another carving showed a swastika with the message: “We are everywhere.”

Another social media post by Big Sky Active Club named one of its members, who has not yet been charged, with carving the symbols.

“(Name) doing some nazi vandalism in the outdoors,” the post said, adding a couple of orange, angry-faced emojis.

The Daily Montanan located the person in the picture on Facebook and reached out to him, but did not receive a response.

The National Park Service has classified the Four Dances a “Special Recreation Management Area and an area of critical environmental concern.”

Four Dances was a spiritual and military leader for the Apsaalooke, or Crow people. In 1830, he fasted and danced in that area, receiving a powerful vision, after being adopted by the great-horned owl.

“In these visions, he was shown a war shirt by the owl,” Elias Goes Ahead, a Crow historian told the Billings Gazette in 2012. “So he produced a war shirt as he was shown in his vision. In a battle against the Piegan near Pryor Gap, he went among the enemy. His war shirt was riddled with arrows and bullets, but he was not harmed and he led the Crows to wipe out the Piegans.”

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Darrell Ehrlick, Daily Montanan
Darrell Ehrlick, Daily Montanan

Darrell Ehrlick is the editor-in-chief of the Daily Montanan, after leading his native state’s largest paper, The Billings Gazette. He is an award-winning journalist, author, historian and teacher, whose career has taken him to North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Utah, and Wyoming. With Darrell at the helm, the Gazette staff took Montana’s top newspaper award six times in seven years. Darrell's books include writing the historical chapters of “Billings Memories” Volumes I-III, and “It Happened in Minnesota.” He has taught journalism at Winona State University and Montana State University-Billings, and has served on the student publications board of the University of Wyoming.