The Fight to Save a Legendary Wild Horse Herd
The Custer National Forest awarded a contract on August 6, 2010. It calls for the building of new, bigger, stronger, longer fence to prevent the Pryor Wild Horse Herd from grazing on their mid-summer through fall pastures atop their mountain home. The first question I am always asked is “Why?” To answer honestly, I am not sure what is pushing this kind of expensive and unwanted project. But, to even try to answer the question requires a bit of a history lesson.
The wild horses of the Pryor Mountains, known as the Arrowhead Mountains to the Crow Indians, have been documented as living in this area since the early 1800s. But, they probably have lived here for far longer. The Arrowheads were the sacred heart of Crow Indian country, and the Crow tribe possessed the largest horse herd in the West. The wild horses are likely descended of their treasured war ponies.
It is also likely that they are the descendants of the horses of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The famous explorers had traded for Shoshone and Nez Perce stock and on their return trip from the West Coast in 1806 they put Sgt. Nathaniel Pryor in charge of bringing the horses back to the Missouri River. While camped in the Arrowheads, the Crow Indians stole all the horses. The mountains were subsequently named for the hapless Sergeant.