Some 62,000 Native Americans call South Dakota home (10 percent of the state), almost all of them Sioux; no surprise that the movie Dances With Wolves was filmed here in the late 1980s. Known to themselves as the Oceti Sakowin (“seven council fires”), the Great Sioux Nation can be loosely divided into three dialect groups (Santee-Dakota, Yankton-Nakota and Teton-Lakota), and further divided into bands such as the Oglala and Hunkpapa (both Lakota), though there are nine official tribes (each with a reservation) in the state today.

For decades after Wounded Knee, Sioux history and culture were outlawed; until the 1940s, it was illegal to teach or even speak their language. Today, more Sioux live on South Dakota’s six reservations than dwelled in the whole state during pioneer days, but their prospects are often grim. Native American traditions are still celebrated, however, at powwows, held in summer on or near the reservations (especially big in Rapid City); local tourism offices offer annual dates and locations. Check also sdtribalrelations.com.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

USA features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The best aerial views in the world

The best aerial views in the world

Got a head for heights? If you're craving a new perspective on your travels, the best thing to do is get up high. From mountain-top panoramas to cityscapes, her…

17 Oct 2017 • Olivia Rawes camera_alt Gallery
American beauty: the southwest USA in pictures

American beauty: the southwest USA in pictures

After two months road tripping through the southwest USA, Rough Guides photographer Tim Draper captured the region's stunning natural beauty through his lens. H…

16 Oct 2017 • Tim Draper insert_drive_file Article
Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

That ever-growing travel wish list might be putting some pressure on your pocket – but there are plenty of destinations where you'll get more bang for your b…

11 Oct 2017 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook