Eat, Stay, Shop—At Pine Ridge
Here are a few Pine Ridge tourist establishments; for more, go to LakotaMall.com, or contact the Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce (PineRidgeChamber.com; 605-455-2685), which publishes an excellent map showing many attractions. Pow wows occur on most weekends but for updated information, call the Chamber right before you go. Contact each business below for current rates; generally, you’ll find they’re very reasonable.
Find the Odd Duck Inn down a gravel road off Highway 17 near Kyle, which sits on the site of Johnson Little Warrior’s cabin. Johnson Little Warrior, who died in 1953, was one of the last living survivors of the Battle of Greasy Grass (Little Bighorn). Ceremonial quilts, art by leading Lakota artists and duck motifs decorate the three-bedroom property, which also offers guests their own kitchen. The B&B’s name memorializes the discerning duck in a Lakota trickster legend who warns others of danger—a good lesson for today, says Mark St. Pierre, co-owner and author of several books. (605-455-2972; email@example.com)
Three-bedroom Blacktail Deer Creek Bed & Breakfast is across Highway 18 from the tribe’s Prairie Wind Casino & Hotel, halfway between the towns of Oelrichs and Oglala. Proprietor and tribal member Judy Merdanian, a retired nurse, dishes up breakfasts ranging from continental to ranch-style, with eggs, toast, pancakes, hash browns and more. Call ahead to arrange to meet the family’s buffalo herd. (605-535-2162; firstname.lastname@example.org)
At Higher Ground, a coffeehouse on Highway 18, on the east side of Pine Ridge village, owners Leon and Belva Matthews, Oglala, serve creative, healthy twists on international cuisine, seasoned with herbs from their own garden. Last summer, tomatoes from the garden of famed Oglala activist Russell Means went into the tomato sauce for chicken parmigiana. On Fridays, snap up the special: the café’s signature dish, zingy burritos from a family recipe. Sit inside or on the wrap-around deck. Buy gourmet coffee—brewed up or beans, including the house blend, Lakota Gold. (605-867-5685; email@example.com)
The greenhouse at Lakota Prairie Ranch Resort, south of Kyle off of Highway 2, supplies its restaurant kitchen. Don’t miss the hearty steak or burger dinners (ask for a side of crispy sweet potato fries) and anything that features their fluffy crusts, like chicken pot pie or warmed apple pie with ice cream. The property, run by the Puckett family, who are tribal members, has a gift shop that supports local artists and offers rooms, some with kitchenettes, a bunkhouse and several cabins. (605-455-2555; LakotaPrairie.com)
The gift shop of a splendid museum, the Heritage Center of the Red Cloud Indian School, off of Highway 18 between Oglala and Pine Ridge village, offers the finest in Lakota crafts—including German-silver jewelry by Jhon Goes in Center and Mitchell Zephier, beaded moccasins and star quilts—along with books and CDs. The shop’s best-sellers—earrings, barrettes and bracelets made of dyed porcupine quills—hark back to the pre-Contact Plains, as do hard-sided, decorated rawhide boxes and totes called parfleche. (605-867-8257; for Internet purchases, go to RedCloudSchool.org/museum)