The geographic center of the USA is just west of the Black Hills (ask for directions when you get to Belle Fourche), but this feels like “the center” in other ways. You’re likely to see and hear B-1 bombers overhead, because they are based at Ellsworth Air Force Base just east of Rapid City. This is also the longtime home of the First Peoples, the Native Americans who were here long before white exploration. Cowboys and sheepherders, both Indian and non-Indian, tend livestock on expansive grasslands surrounding the Hills. Loggers and miners work in the mountains, and shopkeepers keep the small towns alive. That mix represents America, and it’s something to appreciate and explore. Attend a cattle auction at St. Onge or a sheep auction at Newell. Tour the free museum at the front gate of the Ellsworth air base. Chomp on sweet corn at a county fair. Watch a powwow (they may invite you to dance in the grand entry). Take in a rodeo. This is what the natives do in the middle of America.
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