Monday, May 19, 2008

Black Hills: Sturgis and Tatanka, Story of the Bison

Of course, the one thing Sturgis is none for beyond anything else is the annual motorcycle rally in August, during which time this small little South Dakota town grows temporarily to the largest city in South Dakota.

It seems that most of the commerce around this area is devoted to those 10 days of the year. Many of the stores and restaurants are not currently open. There are dozens of campgrounds that are nothing more than empty fields with electric hookups. Almost every campground we checked in to within a 100 mile radius had special notes about ‘bike week’ such as ‘no discounts during bike week’ or ‘by reservation only during bike week’. That would be a very different world to experience – just once!

This was the stop where Trevor wanted a souvenir so our first stop was the Sturgis Harley Davidson Store so he could get a T-shirt.

After that we toured the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum. The guys really enjoyed this. There was also a video shown of the history of the motorcycle rally which we started to watch and ended up all four of us got so caught up in it we sat though the full 45 minutes.

It was lunchtime, so we stopped at a local landmark, the Load American Roadhouse.

Our afternoon stop was at Tatanka: Story of the Bison. This place is owned by Kevin Kostner and is just north of Deadwood. He had hoped to someday build a resort here but without backing from any other investors, decided to turn the area in to a tribute to the bison and the Lakota Indians of the area.

What really made this visit special to me was our Lakota tour guide, who provided a lot of great insights into the Lakota way of life, especially the tight day-to-day connection to the bison. Interestingly, some of the information she provided, like why we should never use the word ‘squaw’, were also mentioned in the novel I’m currently reading. I had picked up the book “Ride a Painted Pony” by Kathleen Eagle at our library before the trip. It’s set on a South Dakota Indian reservation in modern times so it turned out to be an especially enjoyable read for this trip.

I think you have to be in the right frame of mind for Tatanka to take your time and enjoy what there is here to learn. For example, the Lakota people treated their women very equitably and, in fact, the tepee and it’s contents were all considered the property of the woman. They are known to have over 100 uses for the varied parts of the bison the hunted. I found the clothing and its detailed particularly beautiful with great thought to functionality.

The centerpiece of this site is a huge bronze sculpture that Kostner commissioned which depicts a ‘buffalo jump’. This was the common method used by Native Americans to hunt these huge creatures, essentially causing a stampede directed toward a cliff so that some of the animals would be killed in the fall.

We picked up some pork chops on the way back to the RV. The guys worked out, while I tried to get caught up on emails and then took the dogs for a walk along one of the trails at the RV park.

While the people at this RV park are very nice and facilities are fine, I was very sorry to see that they had been very sloppy in maintaining the nature under their care. There were several spots where they had dumped things such as trashed washers and dryers, old cars, and the like. I cut my walk short when I encountered that.

Tomorrow, it’s time to start heading back east!

Hugs, C

1 comment:

Sturgis campground said...

Sturgis, South Dakota is home to the largest Motorcycle event in the entire world.