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Group Tour Itineraries
2 Nation Tours
Native Legends and Lore
The First Nations people of Canada and the Dakota and Ojibwe tribes in the U.S. founded their nations on a profound respect for the natural world and, as nomadic hunters, followed the herds and a seasonal cycle of fishing, hunting and food gathering.
Though individual tribes differ in origin and history, each is somewhat united with others through beliefs, traditions, philosophies, respect for the Earth and an understanding of humankind's place with nature. Their ethos and proud heritage have been significant contributions to the region's history and culture. Attend a pow wow with traditional music and dancing, visit a museum where you can see genuine Native American beadwork, or watch a bison herd, and you'll begin to understand the beliefs and values of this fascinating culture.
(Click Map to Enlarge)
Day 1 - Onamia to Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN (86 mi/138 km)
As Minnesota’s second largest inland lake, Mille Lacs is popular with anglers and boaters, and also includes the historic land of the Ojibwe tribe. The Mille Lacs Indian Museum, based on traditional design, tells the Ojibwe history from their arrival in Minnesota through the present. In the Four Seasons Room, life-size dioramas portray Ojibwe life in each season. Ojibwe storytelling, traditional crafts artisans and traditional food tasting are special event features. The Mille Lacs Indian Museum Trading Post has Ojibwe crafts and quality items from other tribes (2.0 hours). Enjoy lunch and gaming at the Native American-owned Grand Casino Mille Lacs. Depart for St. Paul. In 1805, Lt. Zebulon Pike bought most of today’s St. Paul and Minneapolis from the Dakota Indians for $200 in trade goods and 60 gallons of liquor, and then established Fort Snelling (1.5 hours). Overlooking the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, costumed interpretive guides re-create daily fort life in the 1820s with drills, crafts and demonstrations.
Overnight: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
Day 2 - Minneapolis/St. Paul to Mankato, MN (81 mi/130 km)
A Native American tour takes visitors to Minneapolis and St. Paul historic sites, including Indian Mounds Park, the site of the Pine Coulee battle, and a Native American craft shop. At Minnehaha Park, see the statue of the legendary Hiawatha, the young Indian brave of Longfellow’s poems (4.0 hours). After lunch, depart for St. Peter and the Treaty Site History Center (1.0 hour). It was in St. Peter, at a river crossing called the Traverse des Sioux, that one of the most crucial events in Minnesota history took place in 1851. Two treaties were signed between the U.S. government and four chiefs of the Dakota tribe. Treaty terms permitted mass settlement of former Dakota land by Europeans. However, many of the U.S. government’s promises went unfulfilled, and dozens of settlers and Dakota Indians lost their lives in the bloody conflict of 1862. What began in St. Peter ended just 12 miles (20 km) away in Mankato. Originally 303 Dakota were condemned to death, but President Abraham Lincoln pardoned all but 38, who were hanged. The city of Mankato has recently completed Reconciliation Park at the site, with formal memorial ceremonies held each year (30 minutes).
Overnight: Mankato, MN
Day 3 - Mankato to Pipestone, MN (160 mi/256 km)
Follow the scenes of battles to Fort Ridgely (1.0 hour) and the Lower Sioux Agency, the site of the first organized Indian attack in the 1862 Conflict (1.0 hour). Dine at the Native American-owned Jackpot Junction Casino Hotel in Morton. En route to Pipestone, buffalo still roam at the Blue Mound State Park, and prairie grasses and wildflowers abound. The park is named for the mile and a half long cliff-mound that appeared blue in the distance to settlers heading west (1.0 hour). The Pipestone National Monument is the site of a quarry visited for centuries by various Indian tribes for the red stone used in ceremonial pipes. The National Monument preserves this area and the right of all Indians to quarry the pipestone. Indian crafts, including pipe making, are demonstrated at the site (2.5 hours).
Overnight: Pipestone, MN
Day 4 - Pipestone, MN to Mitchell, SD (133 mi/213 km)
Sioux Falls derived its name from the falls of the Big Sioux River. The city was settled in 1857, one of the first settlements in the state. The Center for Western Studies, on the campus of Augustana College, displays historic photographs, manuscripts, and Native American art and artifacts (45 minutes). Shopping for Native American art is available at several shops and galleries in the Sioux Falls area. In Mitchell, the Dakota Discovery Museum (1.0 hour) showcase the works of Oscar Howe, nationally recognized artist and member of the Yanktonai Sioux Tribe. Howe is known for using modern art to depict the spirit and pride of his people. The Prehistoric Indian Village (1.0 hour) offers guided tours of the 11th century village where you can walk through a full-scale reconstruction of an earth lodge and visit the Thomsen Center Archeodome that encloses a portion of the village.
Overnight: Mitchell, SD
Day 5 - Mitchell to Pierre, SD (159 mi/255 km)
The Lower Brule Reservation is nestled along the Missouri River in central South Dakota. The 101-mile (162-km) Native American National Scenic Byway crosses the Lower Brule Reservation following the Missouri River. Stop at the Akta Lakota Museum in Chamberlain (45 minutes) where displays of ceremonial dress, weaponry and tools allow visitors to experience the Lakota past. In Pierre, the Cultural Heritage Center showcases South Dakota history. An extensive collection called “Oyate Tawichoan” meaning the “ways of the people” explores Plains Indian heritage.
Overnight: Pierre, SD
Day 6 - Pierre to Mobridge, SD (236 mi/378 km)
The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe owns and manages herds of 2,000 bison and more than 100 wild horses. Your guide will explain the significance of the animal nation and will interpret the landscape for you (2-3 hours). Lunch can consist of buffalo fare, chili and soup with fry bread. Enjoy a performance of traditional Lakota dancing and singing. Tour the HVJ Cultural Center in Eagle Butte to understand the significance of the Lakota culture (30 minutes). The Hall of Murals features eight large murals by local artists depicting Lakota history, culture and legend. The Standing Rock Reservation straddles the South Dakota-North Dakota border. The area is the birthplace of Sitting Bull, one of the Lakota’s greatest warriors and most respected medicine men. Visitors can pay homage at his grave overlooking the Missouri River west of Mobridge (15 minutes).
Overnight: Mobridge, SD
Day 7 - Mobridge, SD to Bismarck, ND (121 mi/194 km)
According to the legend of the Standing Rock (10 minutes) in Fort Yates, an Arikara woman refused to follow her husband because he had taken a second wife. When he and the tribe returned for her, she had turned to stone! The original Sitting Bull Burial State Historic Site (10 minutes) is nearby. Just north of Fort Yates at Prairie Knights Casino & Resort (1.0 hour), an “Old West ambiance with refined Dakota hospitality” exists in this Las Vegas-style casino. Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park is located on the banks of the Missouri River just south of Mandan, Bismarck’s sister city. The park’s history goes back more than 300 years and includes the On-A-Slant Indian Village (1.0 hour), which was once home to a thriving Mandan Indian population in the mid-1600s who lived in earth lodges along the river. Near the village is the Fort Abraham Lincoln Visitor’s Museum (30 minutes), displaying exhibits relating to the life of the Mandan Indians and the military history of the Fort. The North Dakota Heritage Center (1.5 hour) in Bismarck has one of the nation’s largest collections of Plains Indian artifacts, second only to the Smithsonian. North of Bismarck, visible depressions are all that remain of Double Ditch State Historic Site (30 minutes), a large Mandan Indian earth lodge village. Interpretive signs assist visitors in understanding the history of this fascinating people.
Overnight: Bismarck, ND
Day 8 - Bismarck to Minot, ND (270 mi/432 km)
In Stanton, visit the ruins of an ancient Indian village, Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site (1.5 hours), which was last occupied in 1845 by the Hidatsa and Mandan Indians. This is also the site of a beautiful state-of-the-art museum dedicated to preserving the culture of the Plains Indians. Continuing north to the shores of Lake Sakakawea is a breathtaking view of North Dakota’s largest man-made lake, formed behind the Garrison Dam near Riverdale. Traveling northwest just past New Town, you will cross Four Bears Bridge, named for 19 tribal chiefs of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Indian tribes. It is the longest bridge in North Dakota, spanning nearly a mile over Lake Sakakawea. Visit Four Bears Casino & Resort (1.0 hour), a full Las Vegas-style casino. There is live entertainment and the casino overlooks Lake Sakakawea. Next to the Casino is Three Tribes Museum (30 minutes). This museum displays artifacts relating to the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara tribal history and sells traditional Native American arts, crafts and books.
Overnight: Minot, ND
Day 9 - Minot to Devils Lake, ND (118 mi/189 km)
The Fort Totten State Historic Site (1.5 hours), located south of Devils Lake on the Fort Totten Indian Reservation, is the best-preserved military post on the Western frontier. Later it became an Indian boarding school and community school. Dating from the era of Indian wars in the 1860s, this “outdoor museum” consists of 17 original historic buildings. The fort also houses the Pioneer Daughters Museum (30 minutes), which includes frontier, military and Native American displays and artifacts. The Totten Trail Historic Inn is located on the premises and is furnished in the style from 1870-1910.
Overnight: Devils Lake, ND
Day 10 - Devils Lake, ND to Riding Mountain National Park, MB (183 mi/293 km)
As you enter Canada at Boissevain, a Manitoba Heritage Council plaque honors Manitoba’s first explorers, the aboriginal people who entered the region from the south more than 11,000 years ago while Moncur Gallery contains 10,000 BC native artifacts (1.0 hour). Stott Site, near Brandon, is an important archaeological bison kill area where artifacts dating back 1,200 years have been found (30 minutes). Travel to Riding Mountain National Park with its cool lakes, rushing rivers and dense green forests. The park is a precious resource home to elk, deer, black bear and other magnificent wildlife. Today’s aboriginal descendents keep time-honored traditions alive in Shawenequanape Kipichewin (South Quill Camp) and bison still roam the range near Lake Audy (4.0 hours).
Overnight: Riding Mountain National Park, MB
Day 11 - Riding Mountain National Park to Gimli, MB (220 mi/352 km)
Enjoy an early morning wildlife tour and stop at Agassiz Tower for a scenic view of the Manitoba escarpment (3.0 hours). The name Manitoba is generally believed to be of Cree or Ojibway origin. The ancient story tells of an island at the Narrows of Lake Manitoba, where the pounding of the waves produced a roaring sound that was said to be the action of a manitou, or spirit, beating his drums. The strait was called manito bau, meaning strait of the spirit. Its name, Manitoba, was given to the lake and province. Follow the trail to the rock formation of the Thunderbird Nest, the ceremonial site of the legendary Thunderbird, the guardian spirit. Travel to the lakeside community of Gimli, an Icelandic word meaning “home of the Gods”. It was the capital of an independent colony of Icelanders who settled along the western shores of Lake Winnipeg as early as 1875.
Overnight: Gimli, MB
Day 12 - Gimli to Winnipeg, MB (107 mi/172 km)
Experience the traditional lifestyle of the Ojibway people at Brokenhead Ojibway Nation Historic Village (1.0 hour). Stop at Lower Fort Garry National Historic Park and discover the importance of First Nations people to the development of western Canada. Traveling on to Winnipeg, The Forks heritage site pays homage to this aboriginal meeting place (1.0 hour). The Riel House National Historic Site (1.0 hour) and the St. Boniface Museum (1.0 hour) also depict the importance of Manitoba’s Metis. A bison herd at Fort Whyte Nature Centre demonstrates the significance of these animals to the aboriginals. The Manitoba Museum showcases the culture of the aboriginal people (2.0 hours), while St. Norbert Provincial Heritage Park tells about the transition of the native peoples’ gathering places to French Canadian agricultural communities. You’ll find art galleries and craft shops with aboriginal wares throughout Winnipeg, and one of the world’s largest collections of modern Inuit art at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (1.0 hour). Conclude your Native Legends and Lore Tour at one of Winnipeg’s fine ethnic restaurants.
Overnight: Winnipeg, MB