Lakota Country Times: Tribes unite to buy sacred Bear Butte land

Bison at Bear Butte in South Dakota. Photo by Stacy / Rambling Traveler

Tribal Nations Buy Bear Butte Land
By Brandon Ecoffey
Lakota Country Times Editor

STURGIS -- Three tribal nations came together on Sunday, October 30, to purchase lands near the sacred site of Bear Butte located northeast of Sturgis.

Lakota people can trace their origins back thousands of years through their oral traditions. One site that remains a constant in these origin stories is Bear Butte. Located in the sacred Black Hills, Bear Butte is one of many sacred sites located in the area. It has also been one of the most conflicted locations as Native people have tried to protect the site from the shenanigans associated with the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally that takes place every August in Sturgis.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe of Oklahoma, and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of Montana coordinated with each other to outbid 21 others to acquire the land for nearly $1.1 million.

"For us any motivation to acquire the land has to do with the sacredness of it," said Rosebud Sioux tribal councilmen Willie Bear Shield.

The auction itself lasted for approximately 90 minutes during which time six tracts of land were bid on individually, then as part of a total package.

"We all kind of heard about it on our own," said Bear Shield. There really wasn't a formal plan for us all to come together to purchase the land," he added.

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Bear Shield said that once he became aware of the auction he spoke with the tribe's Treasurer’s office to see what could be done to acquire the lands. He said that the Treasurer’s office at the tribe had been involved in the Pe' Sla land purchase and was knowledgeable of the process.

Bear Shield would add that there is no plans to develop the land and that the purchase would prevent the construction of any "biker bars" on the land.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at

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