The wide-open spaces of the Great Plains roll away to
infinity to either side of I-90 in SOUTH DAKOTA . Though
the land is more green and fertile east of the Missouri
River, vast numbers of high-season visitors speed straight
on through to the spectacular southwest, site of the Badlands
and the adjacent Black Hills - two of the most dramatic,
mysterious and legend-impacted tracts of land in the US.
For whites, they encapsulate a wagonload of American notions
about heritage and the taming of the West. To Native Americans
they are ancient, spiritually resonant places.
The science-fiction severity of the Badlands resists fitting
into easy tourist tastes. The bigger, more user-friendly
Black Hills, home of that most patriotic of icons, Mount
Rushmore , have been subjected to greater exploitation
(dozens of physical, historical and downright commercial
attractions, and the mining of gold and other metals),
but encourage more active exploration (via hiking trails,
mountain lakes and streams, and scenic highways).
Time and Hollywood have mythologized the larger-than-life
personalities for whom the Dakota Territory served as a
stomping ground: Custer and Crazy Horse battled here for
supremacy over the plains, while Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity
Jane were denizens of the once-notorious Gold Rush town
of Deadwood . On a more contemporary note, Kevin Costner's
award-winning Dances with Wolves (1990), shot in the state,
boosted South Dakota's tourism image, though Costner's
own ambitious development plans for the Black Hills have
meant that he himself has fallen foul of the Sioux.
Sioux tribes dominated the plains from
the eighteenth century, having gradually been pushed westwards
Great Lakes by the encroaching whites. To these nomadic
hunters, unlike the gun-toting Christian settlers and
federal politicians, the concept of owning the earth was
alien. They fought hard to stay free: the Sioux are the
only Indian nation to have defeated the United States
in war and forced it to sign a treaty (in 1868) favorable
to them. Even so, they were compelled, in the face of
gung-ho gold rush, to relinquish the sacred Black Hills,
and ultimately the choice lay between death or confinement
on reservations. For decades their history and culture
were outlawed; until the 1940s it was illegal to teach
or even speak their language, Lakota. More Sioux live
on South Dakota's six reservations now than dwelled in
whole state during pioneer days, but their prospects
are often grim. Nowhere is the leg-acy of injustice better
symbolized than at Wounded Knee , on the Oglala Sioux
Ridge Reservation - scene of the infamous 1890 massacre
by the US Army, and also of a prolonged "civil disturbance" by
the radical American Indian Movement in 1973.
Today Native American traditions are celebrated by music,
dance and socializing at powwows , held in summer on the
reservations; the state tourist office can supply dates
and locations. Apart from powwows, South Dakota summers
are taken up with historical celebrations, volksmarches
(a friendly sort of community walking exercise), ethnic
festivals and rodeos. The 200th anniversary of the Lewis
and Clark expedition will be celebrated between 2003 and
2006; check for event details. The state has 170 parks
and recreation areas for hikers and campers. In winter,
downhill skiing is limited to Terry Peak and Deer Mountain
outside Lead in the Black Hills; cross-country skiing and
snowmobiling are more prevalent.
These South Dakota vacation cabins,
condos, and cottages are presented by their Owners or agents.
click on the links provided, then contact Owners directly
with your inquiries.