If you really want to get to know Native American culture, it’s essential to go beyond the landscapes and statues, and meet the people and experience the culture first-hand. Developed in collaboration with the local communities of the Dakota, this bespoke tour – National Parks and Native Trails of the Dakotas – is a first of its kind. We’ll you off the beaten track for a unique and authentic insight into Native American history and culture, all in direct support of indigenous tribal tourism in the United States. You’ll meet passionate locals and hear their personal stories, visit four reservations of the Dakotas, and enjoy traditional meals and performances during your visits, all while supporting our Tribal Nations. We delve into some of the meaningful experiences and people you’ll meet on this extraordinary tour.
EXPERIENCE IT: National Parks and Native Trails of the Dakotas
Spend the day with the Oglala Lakota Nation
The Oglala Lakota Nation is one of the seven bands of the Lakota division of the Great Sioux Nation, and the beautiful Pine Ridge Reservation and Badlands are their home.
We’ll travel through the iconic Badlands National Park to the Oglala Lakota Living History Village. Here you’ll get insights into the indigenous knowledge of Lakota Country on this MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience. You’ll then drive along the beautiful Badlands Loop Road to Pine Ridge Reservation where you’ll meet skilled local artists and enjoy a traditional lunch prepared by a Lakota family at Lakota Artist Studio.
Later, we’ll visit the Wounded Knee Memorial, the site of the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre. You’ll meet local storyteller Warren Yellow Hair who will recount the event and share personal stories passed down through generations. These are stories that cannot be found in a history book and it’s a moving experience to hear them as you look over the lands where it happened.
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Learn about the Rosebud Sioux Tribe
The Rosebud Sioux Tribe, properly known as Sicangu Lakota Oyate, are one of the seven tribes of the Lakota Nation. They live in the Rosebud Reservation, known for its Ponderosa Pine forests and grasslands covering the deep valleys.
We’ll meet a Local Specialist at the Rosebud Reservation for a special MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience. You’ll learn all about their culture and daily life while supporting their economy of tribal tourism. We’ll then head to the Turtle Creek Crossing Supermarket. Here you’ll taste traditional Lakota foods and learn about Rosebud’s important food sovereignty projects from leading community members. You’ll end the day at Sinte Gleska University where you’ll witness a Star Knowledge Presentation by Lakota elder, Victor Douville.
The next day, you’ll learn about the future of the Lakota people with a meaningful Be My Guest experience. We’ll meet Marla C. Bull Bear, Executive Director of Lakota Youth Development. This is a non-profit organisation reclaiming Lakota language, culture and spirituality and supporting local youth. You’ll hear Marla speak and enjoy a delicious meal while witnessing a traditional storytelling performance. You’ll also get to more know about indigenous plant knowledge and taste the treasures of the prairie.
Later, you’ll see the Statue of Dignity, a towering sculpture of a Native woman standing above the Missouri River. It was designed by sculptor Dale Lamphere to honor the cultures of the Lakota and Dakota people.
“We hope Trafalgar guests get a good look into what Lakota culture really is, and we hope [they see] that Lakota culture is a deep culture and it is separate from the culture of poverty. We like our Trafalgar visitors to take with them a deeper understanding of who we are as a Lakota person and how we have an understanding of our environment that can help our world. We need to reconnect with Grandmother Earth and live with her and not fight with her and our relatives. We hope they get a chance to understand how we connect with each as relatives and how we embrace everyone as our relatives.”Marla C. Bull, Executive Director of Lakota Youth Development
Meet members of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation
We’ll journey along the stunning Native American Scenic Byway to Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Spanning 2.3 million acres across prairie plains and rolling hills, the reservation is home to bands of the Lakota Nation (the Sihasapa and the Hunkpapa) and the Dakota Nation (Upper and Lower Yanktonai).
Here you’ll learn about everyday life on the reservation and hear about the incredible legend of Sitting Bull. He was a Hunkpapa Lakota leader who united the Sioux tribes of the North American Great Plains and led years of resistance against the white settlers until his death in 1890.
You’ll also enjoy a fascinating MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience, learning how the Lakota and Dakota people use the power of medicinal plants, with wisdom passed down through generations. You’ll even create your own herbal tea using traditional practices.
Later on, you’ll meet Jennifer Martel, or Wahukaze Nunpa Win, Coordinator of the Sitting Bull Visitor Center. As a leader of the Standing Rock Movement, a board member of the Indigenous Peoples Movement, and a speaker at the United Nations, Jennifer is an incredible person with many fascinating stories to share. You’ll also get more hands-on insights into traditional plant medicine with a workshop where you can create your own tea mix based on what you want to heal.
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“We organize arts and food classes for the community to uplift our people and to share our culture with people around the world.”Jennifer Martel, Sitting Bull Visitor Center Coordinator
Get an insight into the Mandan, Hidatsa And Arikara Nation
Known as the Three Affiliated Tribes, the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation (MHA Nation) lives on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in central North Dakota. We’ll visit the Earth Lodge Village, set on the gorgeous shores of Lake Sakakawea. It’s home to many of the MHA people who live on the reservation. You’ll learn about life in the village as you explore the earth and wooden homes, led by the community’s elderly women. You’ll also witness a remarkable performance with singers and dancers in traditional regalia telling the stories of life on the Northern Plains.
We’ll then visit the MHA Nation Interpretive Center and see historic indigenous artifacts and arts. In the evening, enjoy a delicious traditional dinner as part of this incredible MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience.
“This is the only place where we as a people can tell our story, we can bring our own artifacts home, and explain to the public, this is who we are”Adrian D. Johnson, Events Coordinator at the MHA Nation Interpretive Center
Keen to get an insight into Native American culture on this National Parks and Native Trails of the Dakotas tour? Let us know in the comments below!