Travel Diaries: The Dakotas and the Lakota

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My visit to the Dakotas began in the North. I went to Fargo, ND to tour Bonanzaville, a village that preserves North Dakotan history. As soon as I walked into the Cass County Museum and viewed the different exhibits on Native American culture, I realized that I’d been catching glimpses of Native American history throughout this road trip, including in Georgia and Florida.

North Dakota isn’t famous for much, but it is rich in natural resources, especially oil. Fargo, its biggest city, borders Moorhead, a city right across the border in Minnesota. I drove seamlessly from one into the other. Where the two cities meet at the border, the area is called Fargo-Moorhead. The twin cities lie on either side of the Red River.

A few hours later in South Dakota, a friend shared stories of the Lakota people. Of the battles they fought that were unfairly tipped in the settlers’ favor. And of the many betrayals they faced that were disguised as “peace treaties.” South Dakota is, most famously, the location of Mt. Rushmore. I wasn’t even sure of that until I visited the mountain into which the faces of four American presidents are carved. Find out why these four were chosen here. A sculpture of legendary Lakota leader Crazy Horse was commissioned by Lakota Chief Standing Bear in 1948, and is still in the process of being carved into a nearby mountain.

Much of the Dakotas are now prairie farmland, but they also include historically significant areas, including the Badlands, the Black Hills and Wounded Knee. And justice is yet to be served on behalf of Native Americans.

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