This land of sprawling prairies and abundant waters is home to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe or Cheyenne River Lakota Nation (Oyate), which is made up of parts of four of the traditional seven bands of the Lakota Nation: Plants by the Water or Mnicoujou, Sans Arc or Itazipco, Black Foot or Sihasapa, and Two Kettles or Oohenumpa. These bands speak Lakota.
The total reservation land area is 1.4 million acres, making it the fourth largest Indian reservation in land area in the United States. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe's headquarters is located at Eagle Butte, the largest community on the reservation. U.S. Highway 212 and S.D. Highways 65, 63 and 20 pass through the reservation.
The Cheyenne River Indian Reservation was home to many great chiefs, including Big Foot and Touch the Clouds.
Big Foot (1826-1890), or Si Tanka, a Mnicoujou chief, remained true to the old ways throughout his life. He was regarded as a wise leader who respected the individual rights of his people. Big Foot, who settled on the Cheyenne River Reservation, led his Mniconjou band on a journey to flee from the U.S. Army in 1890. Their escape route can be traced through the site of Big Foot Pass in the Badlands. Their journey ended on December 29, 1890, at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where more than 200 Lakota people, including Chief Big Foot, were killed by the 7th Cavalry. Chief Big Foot died under the white flag of truce. Today, a single stone monument marks the mass grave of those who died.
Touch the Clouds (1838-1905), or Mahpiya Icahtagya, was a chief of the Mnicoujou Teton Lakota and was known for his bravery and skill in battle, physical strength and diplomacy in counsel. The youngest son of Lone Horn, he was brother to Big Foot, Frog and Roman Nose; and there is evidence suggesting that he was a cousin to Crazy Horse. When Touch the Clouds' Wakpokinyan (flies-along-the-creek) band split in the mid-1870s, they traveled to the Cheyenne River Agency. He assumed the leadership of his band in 1875 after the death of his father and retained leadership during the initial period of the Great Sioux War of 1876-77. He died in September, 1905.
Visit the H.V. Johnston Lakota Cultural Center located in Eagle Butte to learn more about culturally significant items. The museum contains a collection of artifacts from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, including murals, photographs, beadwork and paintings. Visitors can purchase authentic, locally-made artwork as well as art supplies at the center’s gift shop.
The Timber Lake and Area Museum in Timber Lake offers a taste of the area’s culture and history. Items from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (located to the north) are showcased at the museum. An extensive collection of marine fossils, native to South Dakota, is also on display. Locally-made artwork, books by area authors, and other gift items are found in the museum’s gift shop.
The Native American Scenic Byway provides a unique opportunity for visitors traveling through reservation lands. The Byway is approximately 450 miles in length and takes travelers on a journey from the Nebraska border to the North Dakota border. The route winds through five reservations and tribal lands, including Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, Lower Brule, Crow Creek and Yankton.
International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros (ISPMB) is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving America's wild horses and burros. Take a tour through the majestic herds of wild horses.
Eagle Butte, Timber Lake, Isabel, Lantry, Dupree, Trail City
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Game, Fish & Parks
Eagle Butte, South Dakota
Eagle Butte, South Dakota