Bear Butte, South Dakota

Bear Butte is a geological feature located in western South Dakota that was established as a State Park in 1961. An important landmark and religious site for the Plains Indians tribes long before Europeans reached South Dakota, Bear Butte is called Mato Paha, or Bear Mountain, by the Lakota, or Sioux. To the Cheyenne, it is Noahvose, the place where Maheo (God) imparted to Sweet Medicine (a mythical hero) the knowledge from which the Cheyenne derive their religious, political, social, and economic customs. The mountain is sacred to many indigenous peoples, who make pilgrimages to leave prayer cloths and bundles tied to the branches of the trees along the mountain’s flanks. Other offerings are often left at the top of the mountain. The site is associated with various religious ceremonies throughout the year. This mountain is a place of prayer, meditation, and peace.