It was nearing our time to leave Rapid City, SD and the very special friends we had made; vowing to always keep in touch. Facebook seemed to make this a much easier job than it would have been years ago. While here we had met a special couple, Lakota Rick (the nickname we gave him only to remember exactly who they were, I’m terrible with names) and his wife Kathy. They quickly became family to us if only in our hearts, they followed the Native ways as closely as possible; something we try to do.
They were two of the few people we got to say goodbye to before hitting the road. There was but one more place the hubby needed to see before heading out, Bear Butte; it was an honor to have Lakota Rick and his wife go with us. We had to make a pit stop and buy tobacco as an offering for our prayers, one of the many traditions still followed by the Natives. We made a detour and zoomed through Sturgis; after hearing I hadn’t been there yet, they felt I had to at least see the town before heading out.
It was nothing that I had imagined, considering all the activity and visitors this small sleepy prairie town had all of one week a year. The most notable site were the huge white letters perched on the side of a mountain to let tourists know they were in Sturgis, a good photo op but nothing to really write home about. Our next stop was the one we were really looking forward, Bear Butte. It was hard for the lil one to contain the energy and curiosity from learning about another piece of the Sioux heritage. While traveling down the highway it didn’t take long for this magnificent mountain to appear, you could see it across the barren plains for miles before actually reaching the winding road up to the base of this mountain.
We pulled in to what is now Bear Butte State Park and explored the visitor center. The hubby and the lil one, both of whom have Sioux blood running through their veins, went up the trail for a bit to place their offering and pray. I stayed with the puppy in the only shade possible as I felt this was something the two of them needed to share without mommy interfering. It was a hot day in the middle of the summer in the most pristine landscape of prairie lands. I sat and imagined the pioneers coming across this rugged landscape all those years ago with only the mountain as a guide to the gold rich Black Hills. There have been artifacts found on the mountain that date back 10,000 years; amazing when you stop and think about that little tidbit of knowledge.
The Cheyenne and Lakota people have had a spiritual interest in Bear Butte that goes back as far as their earliest recorded history. Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull traveled to this majestic mountain, they are the two most famous visitors I can remember from the learning lesson in the visitor center. Many Indian nations gathered at Bear Butte in 1857 to discuss the white settlers that were invading their homelands. There is way too much history at this particular site to even begin to touch it in such a short blog as this one is.
With the offering and prayers finished, a short history lesson about the lil one’s heritage; the theme of this whole summer, it was time to say goodbye to our friends and go further on our journey. We promised to keep in touch, and to let them know how the buffalo liver turned; this they had blessed us with, 100% all organic buffalo liver (it was delicious by the way). It is never ‘goodbye’ in this lifestyle as we never really know when our paths may cross again; we have learned to say…..
‘Until next time’
It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons. ~Johann Schiller