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The Native American story


PIERRE, S.D. – As Native American history grows and continues to capture the interest of travelers around the world, the South Dakota Native American experience provides some of the best travel opportunities and destinations in the world. The prairies and rolling hills of South Dakota are home to nine Native American tribes and serve as a backdrop for a history layered with a rich texture of tradition.

For many travelers, the allure of the Native American experience stems from its rich heritage, historical significance, colorful culture and role in the modern world. One of the most visual and moving ways to experience this tradition up-close is to attend a pow wow or to visit a location significant to the Native American culture. Tradition reigns supreme at these events with a mixture that blends traditional ways with the new. Pow wows also allow visitors to sample Native American foods, music and atmosphere.

“South Dakota wouldn’t be the state that it is without the significant Native American influence on our culture, and we welcome people from around the world to share that part of our history,” said Richard Benda, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Tourism and State Development. “Visitors have a unique opportunity when traveling to South Dakota to see the places where American history was made and experience the past and the present of Native American culture.”

The Black Hills Powwow is one of the largest cultural events of the year in South Dakota. This three-day festival is held in the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City, Oct. 9 – 11. Festivities include dancing, eating, an art show and much more.

“The Lakota culture is one that is best experienced in person,” said Tina Merdanian of Red Cloud Indian School. “Guests will see the merging of our traditional past with our exciting future at any number of pow wows, events or culturally significant destinations. Our culture is stamped and ingrained in both the history and the future of South Dakota.”

Popular Destinations

Oyate Trail: A 388-mile cultural route that leads from the eastern part of South Dakota to the west, covering the cultural heritage and diversity of people who have lived and live in South Dakota.

Native American Scenic Byway: This path cuts through the heart of South Dakota’s prairie and follows the Missouri River, extending through the heart of the Great Sioux Nation.

Crazy Horse Memorial: A sculptural depiction of the legendary Lakota leader, Crazy Horse, emerging from the side of a mountain in the Black Hills.

Native American Art: One of the most significant pieces of the Native American culture is the artwork that its people produce. Visit a number of art galleries and museums to see it in person.