Environment | Opinion

Ruth Hopkins: Saving sacred Bear Butte from a massive biker bar

Mato Paha, or Bear Butte, in South Dakota. Photo by Jerrye & Roy Klotz MD / Wikipedia

Writer and activist Ruth Hopkins (Sisseton Wahpeton / Mdewakanton Dakota / Hunkpapa Lakota) asks Indian Country to join her in opposing the construction of the "world's largest biker bar" near sacred Bear Butte in South Dakota:
Bear Butte is our Mecca; our Mount Sinai. Bear Butte has been used as our place of worship for thousands of years, longer than the Vatican.

Now Bear Butte and the sacred rituals and ceremonies that must be conducted there are threatened.

Last Fall, the popular Sturgis attraction, Full Throttle Saloon, known as “the world’s largest biker bar,” burned to the ground in an epic blaze. The owner, Michael Ballard, is seeking to rebuild it- but not in its original location. He is planning to construct his new establishment at the Broken Spoke Campground, which is only a mile from Bear Butte.

According to reports, the new site will be 600 acres with 300 cabins and 450 RV sites. Sturgis, South Dakota typically has a population of around 6,600 residents, but during its Bike Rally every August, it often sees over 500,000 visitors. Our ceremonies take place all summer, until the end of August.

As you can imagine, its difficult to protect the protocol of sacred ceremonies we are responsible for protecting and pray for a vision in peaceful isolation while hundreds of thousands of noisy, raucous non-Natives are getting naked and drunk on your doorstep. Our ancestors did not have to contend with loud concerts, flashing lights, helicopters, revving engines, and gawking tourists, nor should we.

Get the Story:
Ruth Hopkins: Save Bear Butte (Indian Country Today 6/23)

Also Today:
Bear Butte to Be Desecrated By Sodom and Gomorrah Bar (Indian Country Today 6/23)

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