Standing Rock Reservation takes its name from a natural formation that resembles a woman with a child on her back. Today, this sacred stone stands on a monument outside the Standing Rock Agency's office in Fort Yates, North Dakota.
The reservation is home to two bands of the Lakota Nation: the Sihasapa or Blackfoot and the Hunkpapa or Campers at the Horn. The Dakota people of Standing Rock include the Upper Yanktonai, called the Ihanktonwana or Little End Village and the Lower Yanktonai, called the Hunkatina or Cut Heads. The Hunkpapa and Sihasapa people were known as the horsemen of the plains and primarily hunted buffalo for their needs. The Yanktonai were a river-plains people who did some farming and buffalo hunting.
Standing Rock is the birthplace of Sitting Bull (c.1831-1890), one of the most widely-recognized Native American historical figures. Known in his language as Tatanka Iyotake, Sitting Bull was a medicine man and an Itancan, or Leader of the People. He was born along the Grand River and lived the traditional lifestyle of his people. In his lifetime, he fought to preserve and protect the ways of the people and stood firm against all attempts by the U.S. Government to buy land sacred to the Lakota and Dakota people and to being relocated to the reservation set aside for the Sioux Nation.
Sitting Bull was killed on December 15, 1890, during an attempt to arrest him. Two burial sites memorialize Sitting Bull: the original burial site, located at Fort Yates, North Dakota, and the site to where the grave was reportedly relocated across the Missouri River from Mobridge, South Dakota. At the Fort Yates site, a rock and bronze sign honor Sitting Bull. A bust, carved by Korzcak Ziolkowski, honors him at the site near Mobridge. This site overlooks the western bank of the Missouri River on the eastern boundary of the reservation.
Near the memorial bust of Sitting Bull stands a marker erected as a tribute to Sakakawea (c.1788-1812), the Shoshone woman who traveled with explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their journey to the Pacific Ocean. Six years after that historic journey, Sakakawea entered the spirit world at Fort Manuel near Kenel, North Dakota. The Fort Manuel Replica, a recreation of where Sakakawea spent her last days, stands on the river bluffs near Kenel where visitors can admire the natural beauty and peace of her final resting place.
The Standing Rock National Native American Scenic Byway runs along historic S.D. Highway 1806 and S.D. Highway 24 for 86 miles. It crosses the lands of the Lakota and Dakota people, who preserve the history of several explorers, trappers and chiefs who were essential in the shaping of the American west. Memorial markers, interpretive signs and monuments commemorate the heritage of the Lakota and Dakota nations and allow visitors to learn history from the Native American and early settlers' points of view.
The Lewis and Clark Legacy Nature Trail, located at Prairie Knight Marina near Fort Yates, is a three-mile walking/biking/hiking trail. Markers identify natural plants, including explanations of how the Lakota and Dakota used them, and the wildlife of the area.
Standing Rock offers fishing, boating and other water recreation on Lake Oahe. The Bay, located in Indian Memorial Recreation Area near Grand River Casino and Resort near Mobridge and Prairie Knights Marina, provides RV hookups, camping areas, and ample space for boating and fishing.
Little Eagle, Wakpala, Kenel, McLaughlin, McIntosh, Bullhead
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
Fort Yates, North Dakota