Native American heritage draws visitors to neighboring towns in central South Dakota.

Deep-rooted Lakota and Dakota culture, a love for the outdoors, and a strong connection to the Missouri River link the South Dakota towns of Chamberlain and Oacoma with the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and Crow Creek Sioux Tribe upriver. Your journey begins on a bluff high above I-90 in the state's center, where the Missouri widens into Lake Francis Case reservoir.

stainless-steel native american sculpture
Credit: Natalia Colon

Learn About Lakota Life

The 50-foot-tall Dignity of Earth and Sky sculpture stands on a bluff above Chamberlain, her shimmering star quilt (wičháhpi owíŋža in Lakota) held high. Visit the Aktá Lakota Museum and Cultural Center for multisensory displays showing early Lakota life, as well as modern art. Meditate on Lakota directional prayers in the riverfront Medicine Wheel Garden or visit Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel, where the Seven Sacred Rites of the Lakota glow in stained-glass windows.

Shop for Local Goods

Buy a star quilt, beaded earrings, porcupine quill jewelry (a regional specialty) or Lakota books from the museum store or Dakota Indian Foundation's Dakota Plains Gallery and Gifts, nestled among antiques stores and mom-and-pop shops in downtown Chamberlain. Stop at Main St. Cafe and Market for cinnamon roll pancakes or savory, fried chislic (cubed red meat), the state's official nosh. Drive to Al's Oasis in Oacoma for a wedge of pie, plus coffee that still only costs a nickel.

Follow the Missouri River for Panoramic Views

The Native American National and State Scenic Byway follows the Missouri River over rolling hills, past grazing bison and into tribal communities. Start in Chamberlain's Roam Free Park for a panoramic river view. Honor the Dakota fallen at The Spirit of the Circle Monument near Big Bend Dam. Take a short hike to see traditional dwellings and a 25-mile river curve at The Narrows Historical Interpretive Area.

Fish for Walleye

Lake Francis Case is a walleye hot spot. Fish from the pier or rent pontoons, paddleboards or kayaks at American Creek Campground in Chamberlain. Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center in Oacoma offers boat and river tube rentals, plus waterfront lodging.

Dine with a View

Eat on the riverside patio at The Smoking Mule, or on the rooftop at Upper Crust Pizza and Wings, near Chamberlain's steel bridge. As the sun slips below the horizon, the Missouri is never far away.

Enjoy a Seasonal Event

Attend one of these fun fall events in Oacoma and Chamberlain.

St. Joseph's Indian School Powwow, September 17

Dancers, singers and drummers from many tribal nations gather in Chamberlain. Powwows are ceremonial, but visitors are welcome. Treat it like any place of worship.

Harvest Festival, September 24

Celebrate fall with live music, street food, community art and a pumpkin patch in Oacoma City Park. Don't miss the pumpkin catapult contest!

Rooster Rush, October 15

Hunters flock to Chamberlain-Oacoma for the opener of pheasant season. Allen's Hillside Guide Service, Thunderstik Lodge and both tribes off er hunting info, guides and lodging.