Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota Heritage Village
Mount Rushmore has always been controversial among the Lakota people. The Black Hills are sacred to them, and the presence of a large sculpture honoring white leaders in the middle of the hills isn’t exactly welcome.
In 2004, Gerard Baker, a Mandan-Hidatsa who grew up on the Fort Berthold Reservation in western North Dakota, was the first Native American to be appointed superintendent of Mount Rushmore. Since that time, he has worked to expand the exhibits and programs at the monument to include the Native American perspective.
The first of his projects was the Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota Heritage Village (summer only, daily 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.). During the summer, interpreters are on-site to talk about the traditional lifestyle and customs of the Native Americans before the arrival of Europeans to the area.
The village began as one tipi erected to the left of the monument off of the Presidential Trail. In subsequent years, the program was expanded and two additional tipis were added. One of the tipis is furnished in the traditional manner and the other two are used for demonstrations. Visitors to the heritage village learn about Native American languages, traditional living, arts, and storytelling. The programs are presented by members of various South Dakota tribes.
© Laural A. Bidwell from Moon Mount Rushmore & the Black Hills, 1st Edition