Badlands Songs

Mrs. Trandem’s students of Custer Elementary School wrote two songs with songwriter Marianne Fridell, inspired by Badlands National Park.

“Badlands Commercial” and “Mako Sica”
Words and music by Marianne Fridell
with Mrs. Trandem’s 4th Grade Class
©2016 National Park Service

      Badlands Song Custer

“Badlands Commercial”

Come to the Badlands. There’s lots to see.
Butterflies, prairie dogs, elk, & centipedes
Bald eagles, antelope, & bison too
If you’re lucky–a black-footed ferret too.
Come to the Badlands. It’s all true.

Fossils from 33 million years ago.
Learn about the horses – with three toes.
Saber-toothed tigers and pigs big as cows. Wow.
Mosasaurs in the ocean. Where are they now?
Come to the Badlands.  It’s all true.

“Mako Sica”

​Black Hills eroded, went out to the ocean of the Badlands
In the bus we were so close to the cliff it looked like we’d fall right in
Right into rocks, into a hole, into the bottom of a cliff.
Pointy rocks everywhere, like a cathedral. We’d get lost in there.
Oo-oo-wo Oo-oo-wo

We spied a deer and tiny footprints from a kangaroo rat,
Bones and fossils– Cretaceous creatures left that.
We saw layers of mud that felt dry but looked wet.
The blowing wind to hear and see and there’s more yet.
Mako Sica it’s a rough land. Mako Sica it’s a rough land.
Oo-oo-wo Oo-oo-wo

The ground crumbled underneath our feet,
Windows in the rocks, water flowing underneath,
Water went underground and came up again.
That’s when we almost fell in.

We felt nervous, scared, excited, jumpy like butterflies inside,
Interested and surprised. It was weird and amazing
Oo-oo-wo Oo-oo-wo

The air is fresh and there’s history all around you
Maybe you’ll find a sabre tooth tiger’s tooth.
Watch out! Bobcats and rattlers are hiding there (hiss)
Where the ancient rhino sleeps everywhere.
Mako Sica it’s a rough land.
Mako sica it’s a rough land.
Mako Sica it’s a rough land.
Mako sica it’s a rough land.
Oo-oo-wo Oo-oo-wo Oo-oo-wo Oo-oo-wo

Badlands National Park
Mrs. Trandem’s 4th Grade Class

During the Age of Dinosaurs, a warm, shallow sea covered the Great Plains and included what is now the Badlands. Since dinosaurs were land creatures these fossils haven’t been found in the park. Giant marine lizards, sea turtles and fish swam in the sea and mammals like rhinos and the saber toothed tigers roamed there. Today, the park is 244,000 acres and has a grass prairie that protects bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets.

Scientists have been coming to explore the area since the 1840s. Although Native Americans explored the land as well, they felt what was in the earth should remain untouched so they left the area undisturbed. The Lakota people called this place “mako sica” or “land bad”. This was a good name for the area with the extreme temperatures and lack of water. Now the Badlands ground is formed when soft rock erodes and we get spires, gullies, and ridges.

The National Park Service was created to protect the area and also to let people visit and enjoy it. That’s why it’s so important that when we visit the parks, we leave the fossils, plants, animals, artifacts, and rocks as we found them and don’t take anything. Things will stay the way they have been for years when visitors like you and me respect the area by just looking at things without disturbing them. Then the next visitors can discover and enjoy it like we did.

We think you should learn about, explore, and help protect Badlands National Park or another national park in our beautiful country. So the next time you see a “Have you been to Wall Drug?” bumper sticker, we think you should ask the people in the car if they’ve been to Badlands National Park – just off the interstate.​

Mrs. Blacksmith’s, Mrs. Whites’s and Mrs. Ferguson’s 4th Grade students of Rockyford School wrote their song with songwriter Sequoia Crosswhite, inspired by Badlands National Park.

“Mako Sica”
Words and music by Sequoia Crosswhite
with Mrs. Blacksmith’s, Mrs. White’s and Mrs. Ferguson’s 4th Grade Classes
©2016 National Park Service

      Badlands Song Rockyford

“Mako Sica”

Mako Sica, it’s not a bad land, it’s rough so ya gotta be tough
We’re proud. We’re Lakota. We love ya, Mako Sica

If you’d been here a long time ago, you could’ve watched the ocean flow
The old ones say the thunderbird had the fire in the sky
It was him who made it dry

And it’s on these dry lands that we climb, and as we do,
We go through time…You can learn this through our rhyme
Come see it through your own eyes


We still have buffalo here and once had the great grizzly bear
We have deer, hehakapi, sungmanitu, igmu tankapi
Enjoy the fresh air, skies so blue, the great wanbli watches me and you!
Mako Sica is our home and strength
We’ll protect you no matter the length


It’s a beautiful land to walk and a good place to talk…
Whether on the back of a sunkawakan or a nice flat rock to sit upon
Pizpizapi might pop up and greet ya
Watch out for the cactus and creatures that can bite
So be careful where you step…you gotta show respect


Badlands National Park
Mrs. Blacksmith’s, Mrs. White’s and Mrs. Ferguson’s 4th Grade Classes

It was a very nice day as Margaret pulled up in our bus! We rode the bus for a long time. We saw Scenic. It looked like a ghost town with its old, dead and destroyed homes. It looked like a lonely place but it did have a black cat. As we went further down the road we saw creeks with lots of water. We also saw buffalo, deer and rabbits. Finally we arrived at the Visitor’s Center of Badlands National Park.

We saw and did lots of things. First we got our cameras. Then we met our Custer Buddies. Some of us were scared and shy. We were excited to take pictures though. We saw lots of roley poleys at the Visitor’s Center. Finally, we got back on our busses and traveled to our hiking spot.

The hike was fun! We started taking pictures. We took pictures of each other, cactus, flowers and tall grasses. As we hiked we saw footprints in the mud, crystals in the rock and spiders on the hills we got to climb. There were hills that looked like temples and a small Bear Butte. We ran and climbed and jumped over big rocks. A couple of boys say they saw a mountain lion. Some of us fell on cactus and slipped in the mud. The wet dirt can be tricky! It can be very slippery! And watch out for holes…we almost lost Helen in a big hole! Some of the adults had to stop and help a boy who fell. One of us thought the hike was kinda horrible because he almost twisted his ankle but we think it would’ve been harder on the teachers because they would’ve had to carry him back! So we were all glad no one got hurt!

Which brings us to some safety points. When you go for a hike, stay in the middle of the trail…don’t wander off! Take some water. Wear pants and boots or shoes. Watch out for holes and wet areas because they could be slippery. You need to watch where you’re walking because there are cactus and rattlesnakes. Finally, a flashlight, first aide kit and a light coat in your backpack would be handy.
Here are some facts about Badlands National Park. Mako Sica means lands that are rough. They are not bad. For many of us, they are home. The rangers protect a herd of buffalo. Mako Sica used to be an ocean so you could find fossils of sea critters but no dinosaurs. Rangers are protecting the black footed ferret from extinction. They are natural predators of prairie dogs. Too many prairie dogs lead to desert-like ground, sink holes and broken legs to cattle and horses.

In conclusion, we would like to welcome you to explore our Mako Sica. But remember, they aren’t bad…they’re just rough so you gotta be tough!

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