Bear Butte State Park

Bear Butte, South Dakota

FOUNDED: Unknown


The Bear Butte State park features an oddly shaped mountain that has served as a sacred place for Native Americans for thousands of years. The mountain, standing 400 feet tall and 4,422 feet wide, looks like a massive sleeping bear, hence the name “Bear Butte”.

According to Cheyenne and Sioux medicine men, it is a place of spiritual energy, and they have based their entire religion on it. It is believed that the mountain contains the secret to how nature creates its creatures. Many tribe members incorporate this into their art, especially by using the sacred number four in it.

Near the mountain, shamans and their initiates perform sweat lodges and sacred ceremonies. In later years, the area became a public state park, which provoked the Native Americans to protest in 1994. They wanted the area to be exclusive to them, but the park officials said it would be near-impossible to tell a Native American from the 50,000 other visitors.



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