Join the circle and relax in the company of fine historians and storytellers; the guardians of centuries-old wisdom. Take this opportunity to traverse the wide open prairies, shining mountains and mighty rivers of the Great Sioux Nation, to see buffalo stampede on the prairie as they did in the old days, hear of legendary figures such as Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Man Afraid, Black Elk, to stand where they stood, see what they saw and to feel their struggles and triumphs.
Lakota Dreamkeeper creates a once in a lifetime experience for anyone who feels an affinity with the indigenous cultures of the Great Plains and the desire to interact with, learn of and hear from the people whose history, stories and spirituality are held within these lands.
Day 1 (Sat Sept 22): Arrive Rapid City, SD (RAP) and enjoy a relaxed evening at your hotel prior to the beginning of your journey.
Day 2 (Sun Sept 23): We begin by entering He Sapa Wakan – The Heart of Everything That Is – the sacred Black Hills, Holy Land of the Lakota people. At Wind Cave, the site of Lakota genesis we begin to appreciate the complexities of Lakota cosmology and spirituality founded on Mitakuye Oyasin; the belief that all things are related in the circle. We seek out Tatanka, the buffalo, and in sight of one of the last remaining free-roaming herds of buffalo we explore the spiritual and physical significance of the buffalo to the People.
Stay: Rushmore Plaza, SD.
Day 3 (Mon Sept 24): This morning we are up early to feel the thunder! There is no sight or sound like a stampede of buffalo on the plains and this is the one opportunity of your life to experience the moving black cloud; Tatanka, on whom the ancestors relied for all sustenance. Although this spectacular event is controlled (as far as its possible for thirteen hundred 1500lb buffalo to be, and you will view from a designated safe place) if you close your eyes, you can imagine the melee of the old-time tribal buffalo hunt.
And if you open them again, the stupendous sight of the hunt is right before you. Later this day at The Place of the Thunders, Hinhan Kaja Paha, we appreciate the beauty of the highest point in the Black Hills upon which Black Elk experienced much of what embodied the story of his life as told in Black Elk Speaks. Among the granite spires and brook laden grassy meadows of the Black Hills, we experience the tradition of storytelling, listen to the earthy wood wind tones of the Native American Flute. Stay: Rushmore Plaza, SD.
Day 4 (Tues Sept 25): HBO’s recent Emmy-sweep, “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” told of the 1890 massacre when nearly 300 Lakota men, women and children in the process of surrendering weapons, were mercilessly shot down. Although this movie, named like Dee Brown’s book, ‘Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee’ received critical acclaim, it won scant praise from local people and descendents of the massacre victims. So our next stop is a small but excellent museum in Wall, SD which tells the real story with respect and sensitivity.
The Badlands is renowned as a geologist’s heaven with its 75 million years worth of rock accumulation …now eroding at the rate of an inch per year. But amid the multi-hued pinnacles and buttes known to the Lakota as Mako Sica, our focus is the People and we listen for the stories of the Stronghold, and of the Spirit Prayer movement. Standing in this ragged moonscape of harsh, arid beauty, the perspectives of Lakota ambassadors whose ancestors gave all to protect Lakota culture are simultaneously poignant, yet uplifting. This night we stay in cabins at the Badlands where with minimal light pollution the Lakota night sky offers an incredible star show. Stay: Cedar Pass, SD.
Day 5 (Wed Sept 26): Travel to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and hear in situ the story of the Oglala Lakota people. We visit the original Pine Ridge Agency and tour the Heritage Center at Red Cloud School to admire the beautiful Fine Arts and crafts of the Lakota. On Pine Ridge you will have opportunity to buy art and jewelry direct from Lakota artisans. Our day culminates with a visit to Wounded Knee; there can be no substitute for visiting the site yourself and hearing the truth of the event from Lakota guides who can also explain the reverberations in contemporary Indian life. Stay: Rapid City.
Day 6 (Thurs Sept 27): The Vore Buffalo Jump is regarded as one of the world's premier archeological sites. Alongside fascinating mechanics involving the enticement of small groups of buffalo from the herd to run over the edges of cliff formations, our interest also reflects the ceremonial journey that is linked to the sun’s passage through the constellations and the relationship between the buffalo and human beings. At the Bear’s Lodge or Mato Tipila, a stone obelisk known to mainstream tourism as Devil’s Tower, we find that there are no devils at this place; an ancient Sun Dance site! Stories and explanations originating from seven independent Plains Indians tribes tell remarkably similar history and cultural connotations of this sacred rock’s creation and of its mirror-image in the connecting star world. Stay: Sheridan, WY.
Day 7 (Fri Sept 28): The Battle Where The Girl Saved Her Brother went down in Cheyenne history as an event of prodigious bravery, and brought Buffalo Calf Trail Woman to spiritual immortality amongst her people. Amid the US Cavalry however, this battle is not so well remembered. Had the Lakota and Cheyenne not prevailed, would the Little Bighorn ever have happened?
Hike the Rosebud Battlefield site, an easy stroll amid wild plums, timsila and chokecherry and begin to appreciate the alliance between the Cheyenne and Lakota that ultimately brought victory to the Plains people.
Then we take the ‘Spirit Road’, the route Custer took to the Little Bighorn toward the Indian village site along the Little Bighorn River. Standing where Crazy Horse crossed the Little Bighorn River to meet Custer’s 7th, we follow the battle as it unfolded, following the story across the battlefield, learning not only of the fate of those who fought for their respective nations, but the lasting results of the battle into modern day times for the Lakota and Cheyenne peoples.
Weir Point, Medicine Tail Coulee, Calhoun Hill, the Cheyenne Village - infamous places, and today you follow the footsteps of legendary figures such as Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Gall and many others. You may also opt for the unique opportunity to actually ride on the Little Bighorn Battlefield, to truly see the terrain as these legendary warriors on each side saw it June 25, 1876. Stay: Sheridan.
Day 8 (Sat Sept 29): Depart from Billings, MT. Can I extend this itinerary? Yes. On the Trail of the Brother Bear. Don’t leave! Spend three wonderful days reconnecting with Mother Earth in this unfinished land; an earth sculpture in the making! For here in this special land are studded more geysers, fumaroles and mud pots than any other place on the planet.
Experience a natural wonderland where the bear, buffalo, elk and wolves roam free as the Creator intended; the perfect place to reflect that Yellowstone Is Indian Country. Witness the inner workings of Mother Earth as Old Faithful erupts and absorb the exquisite raw beauty of Artist’s Point at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
We will search for bears and wolves in the glorious Hayden Valley, learn of the bear’s role in indigenous cultural context and reflect his role as the giver of strength and healing. Stay: Yellowstone/Cody.
Day 11 (Tues 2nd Sept): Depart from Billings, MT (BIL).
Tour prices are based on solo travelers, not room sharing. if you want to lower your cost, please call to discuss how we can do this for you. Check if you qualify for any of oue excellent discounts
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USA South Dakota Wyoming Montana Local Culture Cultural Journey Native Americans