South Dakota is rich in Native American history and culture. Each region of the state is home to different tribes, each of which has its own unique story to tell.

Southeastern South Dakota

Yankton Sioux Tribe and Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe

Southeastern South Dakota is home to the lands of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, also known as the Ihanktonwan Dakota Oyate, and the Santee Sioux Tribe, who often refer to themselves as Dakota. The Yankton lands are adjacent to the waters of the Missouri River, where visitors can sit peacefully to observe birds and other wildlife, or simply enjoy the beauty of the area. The Santee lands are located about 45 miles north of Sioux Falls. There are options for cultural immersion both on and off reservation lands.

Must-see stops:

  • Treaty of 1858 Monument
    • This monument, marking a treaty between the United States and the Yankton Sioux Tribe, can be found on a hill approximately ¼ mile north of the community of Greenwood.
  • Spirit Mound Historic Prairie
    • Walk in the footsteps of Lewis & Clark, where the Corps of Discovery thought they would find little people with big heads inhabiting the mound. While they didn’t find any little people, they did lay their eyes on millions of American Bison and thousands of acres of natural prairie. Spirit Mound is located north of Vermillion off of Highway 19.
  • Good Earth State Park at Blood Run
    • Located southeast of Sioux Falls, Good Earth State Park is an important cultural and historical site. Additionally, the park offers several trails for enjoying its beautiful surroundings.
  • Moody County Museum
    • This museum, located in Flandreau, promotes a greater understanding of the history and heritage of the region, including the area’s Native American culture and influence.
  • Four Winds Cultural Center
    • Located on the Flandreau Indian School campus, just north of Flandreau, this center displays artifacts, memorabilia and contemporary materials.

Nearby:

Where to purchase authentic Native American art:

Spirit Mound, near Vermillion

Spirit Mound, near Vermillion

Good Earth State Park, near Sioux Falls

Good Earth State Park, near Sioux Falls

Northeastern South Dakota

Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate

In northeastern South Dakota, visitors will find the lands of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribe nestled amidst the Coteau des Prairies. Lush, gently sloping prairies circle the tribal headquarters at Agency Village. Every hill and valley is a testament to the glaciers that once covered this land.

Must-see stops:

  • Sica Hollow State Park
    • When the Dakota settled in northeastern South Dakota, they encountered a wooded area, or hollow, filled with unusual occurrences. Glowing tree stumps, moaning sounds and a stream that ran red, led the Dakota to call this enchanted hollow “sica,” which means “bad.” Today, Sica Hollow is a state park known for its hiking and horseback riding trails and it is located 15 miles northwest of Sisseton.
  • Song to the Great Spirit building at Sisseton Wahpeton College
    • This unique building in Agency Village is built in the shape of four drummers sitting around a drum, and can be seen from Interstate 29.
  • Buffalo Farm
    • The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribe maintains a small herd of buffalo near Enemy Swim. Tours are available with advance notice.

Nearby:

Where to purchase authentic Native American art:

Sica Hollow State Park, near Sisseton

Sica Hollow State Park, near Sisseton

Song to the Great Spirit building, Agency Village

Song to the Great Spirit building, Agency Village

Central South Dakota

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and Rosebud Sioux Tribe

The area surrounding the Missouri River in central South Dakota is home to five of the state’s nine Native American tribes. Each tribe - Standing RockCheyenne RiverCrow CreekLower Brule and Rosebud - is unique and has much to offer visitors, including cultural attractions, outdoor adventures and beautiful scenery.

Must-see stops:

  • Monument to Sitting Bull
    • The Sitting Bull Monument is located roughly seven miles southwest of Mobridge. There is some controversy over where the Sioux chief and spiritual leader’s remains actually lie, but the monument itself is a beautiful memorial to his dedication to his people.
  • Timber Lake and Area Museum
    • Visitors to this quaint museum will find remnants of the Old West in the community of Timber Lake, fossils from a prehistoric time, and genealogical information about the area’s settlers and current inhabitants.
  • Dakota Sunset Museum
    • One of this award-winning museum’s prize pieces is a sacred medicine rock. Originally located 15 miles west of Gettysburg, this 40-ton piece of granite is embedded with human footprints and a handprint. The rock is considered sacred to the Lakota people.
  • Cultural Heritage Center Museum
    • The official museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society, located in Pierre, tells the story of the state’s history, from pre-statehood to present day.
  • Buffalo Interpretive Center
    • Located just seven miles east of Fort Pierre on highway 1806, this center teaches visitors about the importance of the buffalo to Native Americans while the large windows maintain a visual connection to the landscape.
  • Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center
    • The words “Akta Lakota” mean “to honor the people,” and were chosen for the museum’s purpose of honoring and preserving the rich culture of the Lakota people. The museum is located on the campus of St. Joseph's Indian School in Chamberlain.
  • Sicangu Heritage Center
    • This heritage center museum on the campus of Sinte Gleska University houses the official archives of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, as well as artifacts collected by the University. It is located in the community of Antelope, just east of Mission.
  • Buechel Memorial Lakota Museum
    • This museum’s impressive collection includes a child’s fully-beaded vest, a cradleboard and a buffalo hide robe. Located in the community of St. Francis, the museum’s gift shop features beadwork, leather and metal crafts, books and other fine items.

Nearby:

Where to purchase authentic Native American art:

Monument to Sitting Bull, near Mobridge

Monument to Sitting Bull, near Mobridge

Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center, Chamberlain

Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center, Chamberlain

Western South Dakota

Oglala Sioux Tribe

The Black Hills and much of western South Dakota is home to a number of sites considered to be sacred by many Native Americans, from Wind Cave and Bear Butte to the Badlands. The lands of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, are located the farthest west in South Dakota.

Must-see stops:

  • Wounded Knee Museum
    • The Wounded Knee Museum in Wall tells the story of the events surrounding the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890.
  • Wounded Knee Cemetery
    • The Wounded Knee Cemetery and monument is located south of the community of Porcupine on BIA 27.
  • Pine Ridge Visitor Center
    • Located in the Chamber of Commerce building near Kyle, the Pine Ridge Visitor Center provides visitor and travel information and features Lakota art and wildlife displays.
  • Oglala Lakota College Historical Center
    • On the campus of the Oglala Lakota College, visitors can see historical photographs and artwork displays that chronicle the history of the Oglala Lakota from the early 1800s through the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. An audio recording provides greater meaning to the displays.
  • White River Visitor Center
    • This center is located in what is known as the ‘south unit’ of Badlands National Park, about 20 miles south of the community of Scenic. Open only during the summer months, this center features Lakota exhibits and a video program.
  • Red Cloud Heritage Center
    • Located on the campus of the Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, the heritage center houses an extensive collection of prize-winning paintings, graphics and sculptures, and displays of historical and contemporary Lakota art, including beadwork and porcupine quillwork. Each summer, the center hosts the Red Cloud Indian Art Show, which showcases the works of modern Native American artists.

Nearby:

Where to purchase authentic Native American art:

Wounded Knee Cemetery, near Porcupine

Wounded Knee Cemetery, near Porcupine

Red Cloud Heritage Center, Pine Ridge

Red Cloud Heritage Center, Pine Ridge

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