- 357 miles (574 km)
- 5.5 hours to drive the Byway
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 Byway crosses the reservations of four tribes of Lakota Sioux: Crow Creek, Lower Brule, Cheyenne River, and Standing Rock. Near the Crow Creek Reservation, the Akta Lakota Museum in Chamberlain offers hands-on exhibits and authentic Sioux handicrafts, including the intricate weaving of colored porcupine quills.
In the town of Lower Brule, the Big Bend Dam allows you access to Lake Sharpe, the reservoir that stretches between the Lower Brule and Crow Creek Reservations. Cruise the waters, go on a fishing expedition, or relax at the lakeside. Further up the Byway is Lake Oahe, another popular water recreation spot. It stretches over the border into North Dakota, forming the eastern boundary of the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock reservations.
Several sites along the Byway preserve the heritage of the Sioux Nation. Upon entering the Cheyenne River Reservation, pull out and read signs detailing the tragic history of the Cheyenne River Valley. These riverside plains were the home of Chief Big Foot's tribe, and the site of the Massacre at Wounded Knee when tensions exploded between the tribe and the U.S. Army. The Sioux today hold Memorial Rides, horseback tours of this and other sites in remembrance of their ancestors and the heritage they stood for.
The Standing Rock Reservation 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 sitting buffalo bull, 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.
The Native American Scenic Byway not only lets you experience the rolling plains of South Dakota, but also gives insight into the ancient culture of the Native American: their traditions, their history, their way of life.
Points of Interest
Points of Interest Along The Way
Akta Lakota Museum (ND)
In the heart of Sioux Country on the banks of the Missouri Riveris one of South Dakota's most interesting places to visit. The AktaLakota Museum and Cultural Center is a tribute to the Sioux Nationstriving to preserve and promote Sioux culture, past andpresent.
The museum is located on the beautiful campus of St. Joseph'sIndian School, a privately funded residential/educational facilityfor Native American youth.
Big Bend Dam (ND)
Noted for great fishing, this dam on the Missouri River is a recreation area where visitors can camp and play.
Cheyenne River Pullout (ND)
The Cheyenne River Pullout offers an expansive view of the Cheyenne River Valley in the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. The valley was the site of Chief Big Foot's Village and the massacre at Wounded Knee. An interpretive sign at the pullout recounts this history.
Crow Creek Indian Reservation (ND)
Home of the Mdewakanton (People of Spirit Lake), Ihanktonwan (People of the End) bands of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe in Central South Dakota.
Fort Yates Stockade (ND)
The Fort Yates Stockade is the only building that remains intact from the military post established in 1874. It can be seen today in Fort Yates, North Dakota which was named for Captain George Yates who died at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. The Fort became the largest Missouri River military post. Among the people housed in the stockade was Sitting Bull after his return from Canada.
Four Mile Creek (ND)
As you near Fort Yates, North Dakota you come to an expansive view of Four-Mile Creek. Lewis & Clark selected this place to make camp, and the area retains the sounds and smells of the expedition's visit 200 years ago. The area remains open to primitive camping.
Holy Hills of the Mandan Indians (ND)
The northern half of the corridor is the ancestral home of the Mandan people. In fact, the origin legend of the Mandan people details the emergence of the first Mandan in bullboats after the great flood. Interpretive signage will be located along the highway.
Lake Oahe (ND)
The 1944 Pick-Sloan Plan, developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation, resulted in the flooding of more than 55,994 acres of precious bottomlands on the Standing Rock Reservation. The Missouri River was dammed into a 231-mile long reservoir called Lake Oahe which is maintained by the United State Army Corp of Engineers. Interpretation will be available at the Tribal Administration Building in Fort Yates.
Standing Rock Buffalo Pasture (ND)
Adjacent to the road is a section of land (about one thousand acres) that has been established as the Standing Rock Buffalo Pasture. Buffalo or bison have a great historical significance for the Lakota/ Dakota people. Before the incursion of European settlers, bison provided the Lakota and Dakota tribes with food, clothing and shelter. After many years of absence, the bison are once again on the Standing Rock Reservation.
Standing Rock Monument (ND)
The Standing Rock (Inyan Woslata) refers specifically to the rock for which the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Standing Rock Agency are named. This rock has been protected for over a century. There are several legends relating to the stone, much history, and possibleconnections with Lewis and Clark.