Larry Salway shared the story of Crazy Horse with a small but spirited group who had assembled to take part in the inaugural charity ride sponsored by the Tribal Hope Foundation.
Paha Sapa, the Black Hills of Dakota, will forever be the sacred land of the Sioux Indians.
This knowledge was imparted upon a small group assembled on a grey, drizzly morning in downtown Sturgis by a Lakota elder named Larry Salway. He shared with us the story of Crazy Horse as we congregated under the tent of the Indian Motorcycles display at the corner of 5th and Lazelle St. Indian Motorcycles was sponsoring a charity ride entitled ‘Suicide Rides for Hope,’ a benefit to raise money and awareness to the plight of the local South Dakota tribes like the Lakota whose children have a suicide rate five times higher than the national average. Their community is one of the poorest in the nation, where 97% of the people live below the poverty line.
While Sturgis has a reputation for unbridled debauchery, there’s also the other end of the spectrum. Many use the event for positive causes. When Motorcycle USA heard that Indian Motorcycles was sponsoring the ‘Suicide Rides for Hope,’ we knew we wanted to be a part of it. Additionally, it gave us an opportunity for our first ride on the new generation of Indian Motorcycles, a beautiful blue 2010 Chief Roadmaster. And we couldn’t think of a better way to visit the Crazy Horse Memorial than on an Indian Motorcycle.
The small but spirited group was led by a police escort out of town. People waved as we went by, curious and cordial,
cameras in hand as they photographed the procession. A grey mist enveloped the countryside as we rode out of town, the thrum of our V-Twin engines sounding our battle cry. A light rain misted the visor of my helmet and roads were slick as we took winding back roads to the monument.
As we got closer to the memorial, the rain broke. The sun dispatched of the low lying clouds and the beauty of the green countryside replaced the rain. We passed a group of riders pulled over on the side of the road who were watching a flock of bighorn sheep who stood on the edges of the cliffs high overhead.
The stoic stone face of the Crazy Horse Memorial rises majestically above the treelines. The nine-story high bust is full of remarkable detail, enhanced by the natural hues of the Black Hills rocks. Regal and proud, Crazy Horse looks over the land that once nurtured his people. The carved eyes seem to carry an infinite sadness in them.
This young visitor to the Indian Museum of North America was intrigued with this giant, colorful tatanka.
We pull into the Indian Museum of North America after a hearty home-style buffet and some buffalo stew. The collection of artifacts and Native American artwork is unparalleled. Visitors are welcomed to watch a video called ‘Dynamite and Dreams,’ that chronicles the evolution of what will be the world’s largest mountain carving. At night, a laser light show is projected against the memorial called the ‘Legends in Light.’
The sun has broken up the grey of the morning for the ride back. Afternoon thunderheads begin to rise over Rapid City. Listening to Larry as he recanted the story of Crazy Horse for us, riding through sacred lands, and visiting one of the greatest tributes to the proud Native American culture has been a cleansing experience. “Let Hope Thunder” is the battle cry of the Tribal Hope Foundation, organizers of the ‘Suicide Rides for Hope.’ And while the inaugural event may not have had the
We took a great ride through the South Dakota countryside to the Crazy Horse monument onboard the 2010 Indian Chief Roadmaster.
turnout that they might have hoped for, it still enlightened those who participated. I’m already looking forward to next year’s ride.
* Check back in the upcoming weeks for a first ride review of the 2010 Indian Chief Roadmaster.