Lakota Culture

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Interpretive Centers, Sites & Museums

Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center

Located at the St. Josephs Indian School in Chamberlain on the banks of the Missouri River, the Center tells the unique history of the Northern Plains tribes as no other museum can. Its an opportunity to connect personally with the culture and traditions of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people through exhibits and programs. Expect to be profoundly changed and as you discover something new about the tribes and their rich history, culture and traditions.

Admission is free, and a donation of $5 per person or $15 per family is suggested. 8-6 M-S and 9-5 Sunday during the summer, 8-5 M-F in winter. Guided tours are available, there is a museum gift shop, and you can spend a reflective few minutes in the outdoor Medicine Wheel Garden overlooking the river.

1301 N Main St, Chamberlain SD 57325

(800) 798-3452


Buechel Memorial Lakota Museum

Open Memorial Day through Labor Day (call for hours), the collection demonstrates the Missions enduring respect for the traditions, culture, and history of the Lakota of the Rosebud Reservation. Named after Father Eugene Buechel, S.J., a noted missionary, linguist, and ethnologist who came to St. Francis Mission in 1902, the museum contains many unique artifacts, images, and documents. [It] is an important resource for historians, ethnographers, anthropologists and artists. Today there are over two thousand items in the ethnographic collection, as well as an extensive photographic collection that exceeds 42,000 items.

Local Lakota people make articles for the Museum Gift Shop. The local vendors, in negotiation with the museum director, receive a fair price for their work. Profits from the gift shop support the work of preserving and displaying Lakota artifacts.


350 S Oak, Saint Francis SD 57572

(605) 747-2745


From I-90 at Murdo go south on Hwy 83 through White River to Hwy 18. Take a right and go past Lakeview Road to Rosebud Road (Hwy 1). Go through the town of Rosebud, past Two Strike to St. Francis.


Vore Buffalo Jump

This is one of the most important archaeological sites of the late-prehistoric plains Indians. Discovered during the construction of Highway I-90 in the early 1970s, the site is a natural sinkhole that was used as a bison trap from about 1500 to 1800 A.D. Buffalo were driven over the edge as a method for the tribes to procure large quantities of meat and hides needed to survive harsh prairie winters. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

I-90 frontage road between Exits 199 and 205

(307) 266-9530


Buffalo Interpretive Center

This facility is located 7 miles East of Fort Pierre on Hwy 1806, on the western edge of a large pasture. It is oriented so that the tribes buffalo (American bison) graze in close viewing range. Call ahead to confirm that the center is open, as staff sometimes have to attend to other herd-related tasks. In the building, exhibits illustrate the importance of the buffalo to Native Americans, while large windows look out on the herd and some magnificent landscape.

Native American artisans make many items in the gift shop. The exhibits include tools and toys made from bison, and kids are encouraged to touch. Admission is free, donations welcome.

29349 Hwy 1806, Fort Pierre SD 57532

(605) 223-2260


The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe has three bison pastures (units); the Buffalo Center overlooks the Cherry Ranch unit. The Tribe maintains a herd of 300 bison on 6200 acres, and members of the Tribe operate the Interpretive Center.


Heritage Center of

Red Cloud Indian School

One of the earliest cultural centers and museums located on an Indian reservation in the United States (its on the Pine Ridge), the Heritage Center represents the rich and storied heritage of North Americas Native community and the skill and creativity that remain mainstays of the local Lakota and other Native American cultures. We take special pride in our work to strengthen cultural pride and celebrate, as well as preserve, the local Lakota culture and artistic tradition. We are more than just a museum or art gallery: we are also an economic engine on the Pine Ridge Reservation. With rates of up to 80 percent unemployment here, the Lakota community faces challenging economic and social conditions in southwestern South Dakota. Through the Centers renowned gift shop and online store, our local artists are empowered to increase their own economic self-sufficiency by making their incredible work available to a wider community and in doing so, preserve their skills and extend appreciation for their artistry to all corners of the globe.


100 Mission Dr., Pine Ridge SD 57770

(605) 867-5888


The Heritage Center collection began with the purchase of three prize-winning pieces from the Red Cloud Indian Art Show in 1969, and has grown today to include nearly 10,000 pieces of Native American contemporary and historical Lakota art (all recently catalogued thanks to generous funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services and the Bush Foundation). The collection includes paintings, textiles, traditional art, historical items, pottery and sculpture, as well as a library and historical archives. To get there, take Hwy 40 south from Hermosa, or Hwy 18 south from Hot Springs. Its about an hour from either town, and absolutely worth it. Call for hours.


Oglala Lakota College Historical Center

Located within the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of the Oglala Lakota, this is an impressive endeavor. As you walk through the historical center, you will hear, see and feel the history of the Oglala Lakota people. See historical photographs and artwork displays that chronicle the history of the Oglala Lakota from the early 1800s to the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. An audiotape of this history provides greater meaning to the displays that you will see. The Oglala Lakota College Historical Center honors the struggles of those who have come before us and have lost their lives to protect the Lakota way of life. The college hopes that your visit to the Historical Center will result in a better understanding of Native American people.

The Center is located on the campus of Oglala Lakota College, which is chartered by the Oglala Sioux Tribe. The colleges mission is to provide educational opportunities that enhance Lakota life, including community services, certificates, GEDs, associate, bachelor, and graduate degrees. The Center is open Monday through Saturday 9-5 from June through August.

490 Piya Wiconi Rd, Kyle SD 57752

(605) 455-6000


The Lakota name for Kyle, phežta ȟak, translates as Branched Medicine. The towns population is about 900, but combined enrollment in the Little Wound Schools (elementary, middle, and high) usually exceeds that number. The Reservation is vast, but resources are very scarce. About 30 minutes southwest of Kyle is Wounded Knee, where a mass grave contains the remains of 146 Native Americans who were killed by U.S. soldiers on Dec. 29, 1890. Estimates are that about 300 Native people lost their lives that day. There is a small museum there: call (605) 407-0243 or (605) 867-5684 for more info, or visit it on facebook. A visit to the gravesite is a profound experience.


Bear Butte State Park

Many Native Americans see this unique mountain as a place where the Creator has chosen to communicate with them through visions and prayer. If you visit the park and/or hike to the summit (just under two miles), youll notice colorful pieces of cloth and small bundles or pouches hanging from trees. These prayer cloths and tobacco ties represent prayers offered by individuals during their worship. Please respect these and leave them undisturbed.

The mountain is an igneous (fire, as in volcano) eruption. The Bear Butte Education Center highlights the mountains geology, history and the cultural beliefs of the Northern Plains Indians. An on-site interpreter is available during the summer months. Across the highway, there is a fishing lake with crappies and northern pike that has a dock, a campground, a horse camp and a picnic shelter. A bison herd roams the base of the butte, and visitors should not get too close, as these are dangerous wild animals. Alcohol is illegal in the park, as are uncased firearms and bows. Bear Butte was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Daily fees are $4 per person or $6 per vehicle, or a SD state park sticker. Campsites (23 of them) are non-electric and run $11 ($13 for horse sites).

20250 Hwy 79 N

Sturgis SD (605) 347-5240


Wounded Knee Museum, Wall

This is a major cultural asset that will, unfortunately, be closed for the 2016 season. After a fire in September 2012, the exhibits were reconstructed and displayed at a temporary location, but will be returning to their original location in Wall with an expected opening date of May 2017. The museum will be expanding its displays and exhibits. It originally opened in 2003, with the purpose of sharing the events leading to the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890.

600 Main St, Wall SD 57790

(605) 279-2573


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