The Mysterious Medicine Wheel

Medicine Wheel sign

High up in Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains lies the Medicine Wheel, a mysterious and ancient stone circle. This National Historic Landmark holds deep significance for many Native American tribes, who have used the site for centuries as a place of spiritual connection and cultural practice.

Formed by massive limestone boulders, the circle surrounds a rocky meadow. From the center, where a large mound of stones stands, twenty-eight spokes of smaller rocks extend outward like rays. Over centuries, visitors have added to the central mound, leaving tokens of their respect and prayers.

Sunset at Medicine Wheel

Archaeologists believe the Medicine Wheel was built by prehistoric Native Americans before 500 CE. While the exact purpose remains shrouded in time, different tribes, like the Crow, Cheyenne, Lakota, and Shoshone, have passed down their own unique stories about the site's significance. Some believe it served as an ancient calendar, marking the passage of seasons and guiding ceremonial observances. Others see it as a place for spiritual journeys and vision quests.

Similar stone circles exist across North America, each holding its own unique story. The Medicine Wheel stands out for its scale and the captivating way it interacts with the natural world. As the sun moves across the sky, its rays cast ever-changing shadows over the stones, aligning with the seasons and equinoxes. In the past, wise elders observed these celestial alignments, gleaning insights and making predictions for their communities.

Even today, the Medicine Wheel remains a sacred place for many Native Americans. They visit to leave offerings like prayer bundles and tobacco ties, seeking solace and blessings for their people. As part of Medicine Mountain National Historic Landmark, the site is protected for all to appreciate and learn from. However, respect remains paramount. Visitors are encouraged to be mindful of the site's cultural significance and refrain from disturbing the stones or leaving offerings.

The Medicine Wheel stands as a powerful symbol of the enduring connection between the Bighorn Mountains and the Native American communities who revere it. Soaking in its majestic presence evokes a sense of wonder and encourages us to appreciate the rich cultural heritage it embodies.

Circle of rocks at Medicine Wheel

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