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National Native American Scenic Byway on Standing Rock
Standing Rock Native American Scenic Byway Overview
The Native American Scenic Byway stretches across the expansive tallgrass plains of the Sioux people, who preserve the history of the shaping of the American West. As you pass through the green-gold hills of this Byway, its many memorial markers, monuments, museums, and sacred sites commemorate the heritage of the Sioux Nation and help you hear history from the Native American point of view.
The entire 86 miles of the Standing Rock Native American Scenic Byway are within the borders of the Standing Rock Reservation. In addition to its rich history, the reservation is unique due to its location in two states North Dakota (ND) and South Dakota (SD).
As the traveler enters the SD segment of the Byway just north of Mobridge, South Dakota on Hwy 1806, they can visit the Indian Memorial Area to see the Jedediah Smith Historical Monument, which describes the life and accomplishments of this famous explorer. There is also a camping area with cabins, a playground, and a marina. Lodging, dining and authentic Native American crafts are available just up the hill at Grand River Resort.
1 mile north of the Indian Memorial Area and 4 miles south are the Sakakawea and Sitting Bull Monuments. It is said that Sitting Bull's remains were removed from his original North Dakota burial site in 1953 to this site marked by a stone monument carved by famed sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski.
24 miles north on Hwy 1806, near Kenel, SD is the newly reconstructed Fort Manuel. The log outpost, constructed in 1811 by fur trader Manuel Lisa, is reproduced within 1 mile of the scenic byway. Guarded by the Lakota people is the nearby resting place of Sakakawea, the Shoshone guide of Lewis & Clark, who died at Fort Manuel in 1812.
On the ND segment, 22 miles north of Kenel on Hwy 24, and 2 miles south of Fort Yates, ND, historians can visit Four Mile Creek where Lewis & Clark camped on October 14, 1804.
On the east side of Fort Yates, overlooking Oahe Reservoir, is the Standing Rock Monument from which the Standing Rock Agency derived its name. According to legend, the stone is the petrification of the Arikara wife of a Dakota man with her child on her back.
In June 1875, the Army organized the Standing Rock Cantonment and stationed troops to watch over the Hunkpapa and Blackfeet of the Lakota, and the Inhunktonwan and Cutheads of the Upper Yanktonais. In 1878, the military fort was built and officially named Fort Yates for Captain George Yates who later died at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. The fort's original stockade remains intact and can be seen today. Among the people housed in the stockade was Sitting Bull after his return from Canada.
Just as you enter Fort Yates, visitors will find the original burial site of Sitting Bull who was killed December 15, 1890. There is a large boulder marking the site of his grave. A nice interpretive sign gives information about this well-known, heroic leader.
In the Fort Yates cemetery, there is also a monument for the Indian Police who were killed as they attempted to arrest Sitting Bull.
3 blocks west of the cemetery, the Standing Rock Tourism Office is located in the new Tribal Administration Building. The tourism office provides several historic step-on-guide tours packages.
For the adventurous, visitors can climb aboard a wagon or saddle up and experience the breathtaking view along the Cannonball River 30 miles west of Fort Yates. The cowboys offer historical facts and insights about the relationships between the Native Americans and settlers.
12 miles north of Fort Yates on Hwy 24, the Marina at Prairie Knights Resort has picnic areas, RV parking, a nature trail, and a 3-mile mountain biking trail. Lodging, dining and authentic Native American crafts are available at Prairie Knights.
8 miles north of the resort visitors will find the Holy Hills of the Mandan Indians. Legend says it is the place where the Mandan emerged into the world again. Monument, which describes the life and accomplishments of this famous explorer. There is also a camping area with cabins, a playground, and a marina. Lodging, dining and authentic Native American crafts are available just up the hill at Grand River Resort. 1 mile north of the Indian Memorial Area and 4 miles south are the Sakakawea and Sitting Bull Monuments. It is said that Sitting Bull's remains were removed from his original North Dakota burial site in 1953 to this site marked by a stone monument carved by.
The Standing Rock Native American Scenic Byway crosses the lands of the Lakota Sioux people, who preserve the history of several explorers, trappers, and chiefs who were essential in the shaping of the American West. Memorial markers, monuments, and sacred sites commemorate the heritage of the Sioux Nation and allow visitors to hear history from the Native American point of view.
The Standing Rock Reservation takes its name from a natural formation that resembles a woman with a child on her back. Legend says that a Dakota woman became jealous of her husband's second wife, and refused to move with the tribe. When the man's brothers made their way back to bring her with the tribe, they found that she had turned to stone. Today, this sacred stone stands on a monument outside the Standing Rock Agency's office.
Monuments on the reservation preserve the varied history of relations between Native Americans and European-American settlers. Lewis and Clark made a camp in this area during their expedition to the Pacific, and they took with them Sakakawea, the Indian guide who provided invaluable service on their journey. The young woman acted as interpreter for the tribes they encountered, saved supplies from a sinking canoe, and by her very presence announced that they were a peaceful expedition. Her gravesite lies near Fort Manuel, a tall obelisk marking the site.
Standing Rock is also the final resting place of Sitting Bull, one of the most famous chiefs of the Sioux. Named Tatanka-Iyotanka, which describes a buffalo bull sitting intractably on its haunches, Sitting Bull was just as immovable in defense of his people. As tensions with American soldiers escalated over their desire to mine gold in the sacred Black Hills, Sitting Bull persistently maintained his people's rights to the land. After surviving battles, exile, and servitude, he was killed in a misunderstanding over a ritual dance. The byway passes near his burial site in Fort Yates.
Traveling the Standing Rock Scenic Byway leads visitors to a tangible and distinct view of American history and a greater appreciation for the customs and culture of the Lakota Sioux.
1. Public domain.
2. Public domain. Photograph by Deanne Bear Catches
3. Public domain
To travel the Standing Rock
Native American Scenic Byway, begin by crossing the Cannonball river
on Highway 1806 and entering the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
Continue straight along Highway 1806 for 29.1 miles. The road will
change from Highway 1806 to Highway 24. Turn left onto Highway 1806
and continue for another 14 miles to the South Dakota Border.
At the South Dakota border, turn left and continue
along Highway 1806 for 31 miles. Turn right onto US Highway 12,
and continue 6 miles to the southern terminus of the byway at the
junction of Highway 20.