History & Culture

a vintage color postcard with jagged badlands buttes pushing up into a sky that fades from white to blue
The Badlands are recognized by many people -- past and present -- to be a spectacular place. What kind of human history does the park hold?

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History & Culture Portal

  • a historic black and white photo of the original park sign:
    Mako Sica: Naming the Badlands

    Ever wonder how such a good place got named "Badlands?" Read here to find out who named the park and why they chose the name.

  • various worked stones such as arrowheads in a wide range of sizes lay on a brown cloth

    According to archaeological finds, people have been in and around the Badlands for as long as 12,000 years. Learn more about park arch here!

  • a historic photo of a tipi with paintings of animals on the outside of it
    The Dawes Act

    The Dawes Act affected many Native American tribes. Learn how this law changed the lives of the Lakota who lived in the Badlands area.

  • a yellow sign reads
    Aerial Gunnery Range

    During World War II, the US Air Force seized land located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for use as a bombing range. Learn more here.

  • a man, woman, and horse stand in front of a simple house with badlands in the background

    The Homesteading Acts brought more and more people to the Badlands region. Learn more about homesteaders and their lives in this article.


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    Last updated: July 8, 2020

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    25216 Ben Reifel Road
    Interior, SD 57750


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