South Dakota

Celebrating Native Culture: Black Hills Pow Wow & Lakota Landmarks

Delve deep into South Dakota’s Native American culture with tribe members as you explore important memorials and spend two days at the Black Hills Pow Wow event.
Program No. 24094RJ
6 days
Starts at

At a Glance

In 1883, Congress passed the Code of Indian Offenses, making it illegal for Native Americans to practice their traditions – a law that would not be overturned until 1978. However, in true Native American fashion, the tribes vowed to persevere and hold strong to their beliefs as best they could, even in the face of criminal prosecution. On an eye-opening adventure, learn from local Native tribe members about how their ancestors strived to preserve their culture. Throughout the week, gain an insider’s perspective during in-depth discussions and enlightening field trips to cultural landmarks that dot the Black Hills and upper Great Plains, like Crazy Horse Memorial and the Vore Buffalo Jump. End your learning experience with a colorful extravaganza of native traditions from all over the country at the world-famous Black Hills Pow Wow. Here you’ll join together in a triumphant celebration through dancing, singing and storytelling as you gain a deeper understanding of the beautiful cultures that shaped our country.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Short walks on sometimes uneven terrain, walking shoes recommended. Some stairs and standing at memorials/event.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Experience the Black Hills Pow Wow, an annual event that draws 15,000 Native Americans from all of the country, and delve into Native traditions.
  • Discover two important cultural and historical monuments: the Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore.
  • Learn how native peoples told their story through their incredible art over the centuries at the Indian Museum of North America alongside the museum’s curator.

General Notes

Max of 120 participants; smaller groups for daily activities.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Moon of Popping Trees
by Rex Alan Smith
The Massacre at Wounded Knee was the last major battle between whites and Native Americans. With parallels to concerns some have of today’s news reports, you’ll see that this massacre was largely a result of overblown news reports of the danger of the Native American Ghost Dance. Even more startling is the revelation in this book that the Ghost Dance had its origin in the Christian resurrection story. This book spans fifty years of the life and struggles of Native Americans as they try to maintain their lifestyle in the face of America’s westward expansion.
Life's Journey Zuya: Oral Teaching from Rosebud
by Albert White Hat, Sr.
Because most Native history has virtually always been oral this book is significant in itself. It tells the story of how Native culture was rubbed out of their lives when it was made illegal to do traditional dances, own native clothes or carry on virtually any native daily practices. Without putting guilt on the reader, Albert acknowledges that even some Natives may disagree with his telling but simply notes that when these questions arise, "We should think about it." Mr. White Hat was a teacher for more than 25 years at Sinte Gleska University. With chapters telling of how he grew up, what Native beliefs are about their Origin Story, as well as gender roles, courtship and marriage, this book gives a good understanding of what to most white people is a world apart.
Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors
by Stephen E. Ambrose
A truly unique dual biography of two men with surprisingly similar timelines in their lives. Crazy Horse and Custer were both men of honor but with completely different training and cultural backgrounds. This book helps us appreciate how the cultures of the day made them each well-known leaders and how those cultures brought them into inevitable conflict. You'll recognize names of other famous leaders from both Native and military camps including Grant, Sherman, Sitting Bull and Red Cloud. This is a thorough retelling of a fascinating time of both Native and white history.

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