Protecting Bear Butte from biker bars and helicopter rides

By Tamra Brennan
Protect Sacred Sites

Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation, a grass roots organization, spent the entire summer educating bikers headed for the 2008 Sturgis Rally, regarding the significance of Bear Butte.
You might ask yourself, why educate bikers about a sacred site? The beginning of August each year, 500,000 bikers invade the small town of Sturgis, South Dakota. Sturgis is located eight miles west of Bear Butte, a sacred site to the Plains Tribes. With the rally growing each year, the concert and bar venues are encroaching directly upon the mountain. One of the largest concert venues Glencoe's Rockin the Rally, is located just one mile south of Bear Butte. Just a mile to the north, sits the worlds largest biker bar, Broken Spoke Campground. Both arrived in the summer of 2006.

We are continuing the campaign, Bikers for Bear Butte, in which we spent months emailing over 6,000 fliers to biker groups, organizations, clubs, chapters, vets clubs and individuals all across the country. We posted on every major biker message board. The campaign response was positively overwhelming, with support from the bikers for our cause. The bikers themselves even posted the flier on some sites, suggesting to their friends to help support our plight to Protect Bear Butte.

Once the Sturgis Rally arrived, we spent the entire week walking around the Rally passing out fliers and talking with Bikers. Again, the support for our cause was incredible. We spoke to bikers that heard about it from other Bikers, and supported our cause. There was a couple I spoke with that traveled across country and heard about it from other bikers at a rest stop in Iowa! So, we knew the campaign was working! We gained support from National Biker Clubs, such as Soldiers for Jesus. We spoke with many bikers that remembered receiving the flier in the email, prior to the Rally. So, the word was spreading in the biker community, with a positive reaction.

Many of the bikers that we spoke with, previously were not aware that Bear Butte was a sacred site. They were surprised that there was no information about this anywhere else. The Department of Tourism and the City of Sturgis, make no effort to inform visitors of this information. This is why educating the bikers about the cause is so critical, they just do not know! We are pursuing discussions with the SD tourism industry about adding a clause to their brochures and literature, acknowledging Bear Butte as a sacred place.

The new attack against Bear Butte, that we faced this year was helicopters. Four separate campgrounds were scheduled to fly during the Rally. The Broken Spoke Campground, initially stated that they would offer their guests flights OVER the mountain, if that's what they requested and if it was not illegal. We fought against this for a couple months prior to the Rally, working directly with FAA, we were able to put a stop to it. During the Rally, we were able to speak directly with two of the helicopter pilots, after FAA spoke with them, again asking them to please not fly over Bear Butte. They understood our plight and agreed to respect our requests.

On the first day, Glencoe's Rockin the Rally hosted the group KISS at their concert venue, one mile from Bear Butte. This concert brought tens of thousands of people down highway 79 headed right towards Bear Butte. Traffic was gridlock from I90 thru Sturgis, all the way out to highway 79, three hours of solid traffic. The helicopters were flying over the traffic on highway 79. The same evening, Buffalo Chip which is located at the junction of highway 79 & 34, was hosting Senator McCain in addition to Kid Rock. Between these two venues, it was absolute chaos around Bear Butte.

We spent all year working on our upcoming educational documentary, for the protection of sacred places focusing on Bear Butte, in addition to other locations and desecration of burial grounds. We filmed the entire rally, the traffic and interviewed many of bikers. The documentary will be released the beginning of next year and is called "On Sacred Ground."

Education is a critical tool, towards creating awareness regarding the protection of all our sacred places. We must educate the public in order to help make the difference.

The next liquor license renewal hearing at Meade Country Commissioners will be held on December 2nd, 2008. In the next couple weeks, we will be posting a request for opposition letters for the general public and supporters to send in, requesting to deny these licenses.

Our organization has recently secured and hired a local attorney, we will be pursuing legal actions in the very near future.

Thank you everyone for your continued efforts to Protect ALL of our Sacred Places!

Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation is a grass roots organization, working towards the protection of sacred sites across the country. Our organization has been actively involved with the ongoing struggle to Protect Bear Butte for several years. We are continuing these efforts, our organization is currently leading the campaign regarding the new developments and further expansions at Bear Butte.

For more information please visit our main website at and our dedicated website for Bear Butte at You can email us at


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