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The Road To Nowhere

There’s nothing much south of I-90 and Murdo until you come across a picturesque dale while crossing the White River, sheltering the first grove of trees in too long a time. South of White River, US-83 rolls its way across the Rosebud Indian Reservation. After the signing of the Fort Laramie Treaty in 1868, the Sicangu Lakota, under the guidance of Spotted Tail, were moved five times before finally being settled on this reservation, one of the smallest on the Great Plains. The first town you’ll encounter is Mission, the reservation’s trading center, where US-83 zigzags through a strip of gas stations.

The heart of the reservation is Rosebud, 5 miles west of Mission on US-18, then 7 miles southwest on BIA-1. Most of the reservation’s activities, including weekend rodeos and powwows, are centered on the reservation headquarters. Another eight miles southwest is tiny St. Francis, which has the Buechel Memorial Lakota Museum (350 S. Oak St., 605/747-2745, daily summer only, free), a museum dedicated to Sioux culture founded by Eugene Buechel, a German Jesuit priest, avid botanist, and dedicated student of the indigenous people of the Great Plains.

Back on US-83, about 22 miles south of Mission, is the community’s most profitable economic endeavor, the Rosebud Casino, which sits right on the Nebraska state line, showing where its prospective gamblers are coming from.

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