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Honoring Sitting Bull

5/4/2015:

Sitting Bull is a familiar name to North Dakotans, having played a significant role in North Dakota history. His name struck fear in the hearts of white settlers, but members of the Standing Rock Reservation remember him quite differently – as an inspirational leader and a fearless warrior.

On this date in 2013, it was announced that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Sitting Bull College would participate in the dedication of the Sitting Bull Visitor Center at Fort Yates. The name was chosen in part because of its location on the college campus. In addition to traditional tourist information, visitors also learn about the culture of the Standing Rock Sioux and the five bands of Dakota and Lakota who live on Standing Rock today.

La Donna Brave Bull Allard, the director of tourism for the tribe, said the completion of the visitor center was a dream come true. She says the tribe has visitors from many different countries, and everyone seems to know the name of Sitting Bull. Allard says even if you go to China, you will find people who know of the great leader.

The visitor center is operated by Sitting Bull College. Historic exhibits at the center include photographs, the Good Elk moccasin collection, and a paleontology exhibit. The center hosts educational programs, presents school lectures, and assists tribal members with their genealogy. The center also sponsors special events such as group tours and motorcycle and horse rides.

Visitors to the center will find information about events and places to visit. A gift shop sells items made by Native American artists. Allard said that the tribe views tourism as a sustainable financial investment, with tourism actively promoted by the reservation since 1993. The community assisted with the development of the National Native American Scenic Byway and participated in events related to the Lewis and Clark bicentennial.

The official ribbon cutting for the visitor center was held on May 15, 2013. It is located on Highway 24 in Fort Yates, and Allard sees it as a way to welcome visitors and educate people about Native American history. She is pleased that the center honors Sitting Bull.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher

Sources:

Allard, LaDonna Brave Bull. Email to author, 4/19/15.

Beck, Paul N. Columns of Vengeance: Soldiers, Sioux, and the Punitive Expeditions, 1863-1864. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2013

Robinson, Elwyn B. History of North Dakota. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1966.

North Dakota Tourism. "http://www.ndtourism.com/fort-yates/native-american-culture/sitting-bull-visitor-center" http://www.ndtourism.com/fort-yates/native-american-culture/sitting-bull-visitor-center Accessed 9 April, 2015.

Standing Rock Tourism. http://www.standingrocktourism.com/ "http://www.standingrocktourism.com/" http://www.standingrocktourism.com/ Accessed 9 April, 2015.