For several years, Sioux Valley Dakota Nation has taken its high school graduates on a trip through Dakota Territory in the United States. This year’s trip took place from July 5 to July 9, 2017. On the morning of Wednesday, July 5, students and chaperones met in the Sioux Valley Finance Office parking lot, received hugs and safe travel wishes from family and friends, then hit the road with their day 1 destination of Rapid City, South Dakota. Half way to their day 1 destination, severe storm warning blared over the radio and it was decided to alter their route and go around the storm. Though this deviation would add more travel time, it was a safer route to take. Students and chaperones arrived safely in Rapid City in the late evening hours, checked in to their hotel and prepared for their day 2 activities.
After a quick breakfast, students and chaperones commuted to Bear Butte State Park. Upon arrival, they were joined by SVDN Health Director Marge Roscelli, Chief Vince Tacan and Councillors Tony Tacan, Jennifer Bone and Elton Taylor (who convoyed with them the entire trip). Students received words of congratulations and future encouragement from Chief and Council, then learned the significance of Bear Butte to Dakota people. Students learned how and why to make prayer tie, then proceeded up the mountain joined by some chaperones, Chief and Council, while others remained back to ensure lunch was prepared, water and other beverages were chilled and to keep our visiting area clean. After departing Bear Butte in the early afternoon, students were given the opportunity for a brief helicopter ride, then on to Crazy Horse Memorial.
Day 3 was a travel day as we convoyed from Rapid City, South Dakota to Lower Sioux, Minnesota. After a quick breakfast on Day 4, students sat down with Marge Roscelli once again, and received some history of the importance of Lower Sioux and the Minnesota 1862 Uprising. Students were then taken to the nearby Lower Sioux Agency Historical Site. They were able to watch a brief documentary and learn about the site and more history. Next on the agenda for the day was a trip to Minneapolis for some brief shopping at the Mall of America, then off to Historic Fort Snelling for more history. We then proceeded to Shakopee to rest for the night as the next day was a long drive home.
For some of our students, this was a once in a lifetime journey that they will always remember. It is for those students that this trip is the most important. This trip is meant as not only a reward for graduating high school, but also a means of continued education and encouragement for further education and pride in our own Dakota history.