710 E Garfield St
Devils Tower/Bear’s Tipi has been a part of American culture since its designation as a sacred site to American Indians, long before New World settlers marveled at its geologic splendor. In 1906, it became the United States’ very first National Monument through the Antiquities Act of Theodore Roosevelt’s Presidential administration. In 1977, it entered the annals of popular culture when it served as the beacon to extraterrestrial life in Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
This panel discussion of the cultural history of Devils Tower will be followed by a 40th anniversary screening of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The ninety-minute discussion will include talks by panelists and question-and-answer session with audience members. The panelists will include: UW Professor of Religious Studies Dr. Paul V.M. Flesher, UW American Indian Studies Program Director Dr. Angela Jaime, and folklorist and UW American Studies Professor Dr. John Dorst. Subjects to be covered in the discussion will be: Bear’s Tipi/Devils Tower’s significance to American Indians and the native legends regarding its formation; the history of Devils Tower as a site for amateur and professional rock climbers; the headline-grabbing parachute jump onto Devils Tower by George Hopkins that necessitated a rescue operation in October 1941; American Indians’ struggle to keep the site sacred despite its draw as a tourist attraction; and Devils Tower’s appropriation by the film Close Encounters and its textual transformation to that of a religious icon.