Native American Culture Itinerary
Day 1 - Arrival Day
Crazy Horse Memorial
Take Highway 16 southwest, then head south on Highway 385 past Hill City and Custer to visit Crazy Horse Memorial. Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear officially started the Memorial in 1948 to honor the culture, tradition and living heritage of North American Indians. Korczak died in 1982 and his wife, Ruth, continued to oversee the project until her death in 2014. Today, the Ziolkowski children are continuing the dream of their parents. Explore the visitor’s center and gift shop. Enjoy dinner at the Laughing Water Restaurant at Crazy Horse. Then head out to the veranda to experience the nightly laser light show, “Legends in Light”.
The Heritage Center of Red Cloud Indian School opened as a museum in 1982. It offers an outstanding collection of Native American fine arts and Lakota tribal arts, in a recently renovated facility located on the main campus of Red Cloud Indian School. The Heritage Center's fine arts collection includes over two thousand paintings, drawings, and sculptures representing a large number of different Native American tribal traditions. Its tribal arts collection concentrates on traditional Lakota Tribal Arts. The Heritage Center serves as an extremely valuable cultural resource not only for the students of Red Cloud Indian School but also for students of the other reservation schools and for all the Lakota people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
From its conception in 1971, the mission of the Oglala Lakota College has been to provide the education credentials to students for them to compete for employment opportunities on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. As a result of having a college on the reservation, the Lakota people are now employed in teaching, nursing, human services, business, computer and vocational educational positions on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The Oglala Lakota College was one of the first tribally controlled colleges in the United States.
Bear Butte State Park, Tatanka Story of the Bison, Journey Museum
Take I-90 northwest towards Sturgis. Exit at Exit 30 and continue east on Highway 34, then north on Highway 79 to Bear Butte State Park. Mato Paha or “Bear Mountain” is the Lakota name given to this site. This geological formation is one of several intrusions of igneous rock in the Black Hills that formed millions of years ago. The mountain is sacred to many American Indian tribes who come here to hold religious ceremonies. Many American Indians see Bear Butte as a place where the creator has chosen to communicate with them through visions and prayer. During your visit, you will see colorful pieces of cloth and small bundles or pouches hanging from the trees. These prayer cloths and tobacco ties represent the prayers offered by individuals during their worship. Please respect these offerings and leave them undisturbed.
Head back towards Sturgis and continue on west on Highway 14A to Deadwood. Then, take Highway 85 north about 2 minutes to enjoy Tatanka Story of the Bison, on the northeastern edge of Deadwood. Experience the larger than life bronze sculpture featuring 14 bison pursued by three Native American Horseback Riders. Wander through the hands-on Interpretive Center. Then, visit the Native American Gift Shop and enjoy lunch at the snack bar.
On your way back to Rapid City to visit the Journey Museum, take Highway 385 south and then Highway 44 east. The Journey Museum, located in downtown Rapid City, takes you on an incredible trek through time, from the violent upheaval that formed the mystical Black Hills over 2.5 billion years ago to the continuing saga of the Western Frontier. The Journey Museum brings together four major prehistoric and historic collections to tell the complete story of the Western Great Plains – from the perspective of the Lakota people and the pioneers who shaped its past, to the scientists who now study it. Discover where dinosaurs lie buried beneath the prairie soil. Learn why the Sioux call their sacred Black Hills the "Center of the Universe". Experience the hardships of the homesteaders as they settled the formidable wilderness.
Possible Add-On Activities:
Prairie Edge Store in Rapid City featuring Native American fine art, crafts and pottery.
Sioux Pottery Museum and Store in Rapid City
Day 4 – Departure Day
Enjoy a leisurely morning, eat a hearty breakfast, and be safe on your drive back home!