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Fire destroys Rosebud Sioux retreat center near Bear Butte
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Fire destroys Rosebud Sioux retreat center near Bear Butte

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Officials are investigating after a retreat center owned by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe near Bear Butte was destroyed in an early Thursday morning fire.

Bear Butte Lodge "was fully engulfed when responders arrived," Meade County Emergency Management said in a Facebook post.

No one was at the lodge when the fire broke out, and no one was injured while fighting it, according to a Facebook post from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

A fire official on scene told the Journal that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is investigating the cause of the fire. The ATF has jurisdiction over fire and arson investigations on federal and tribal land.

However, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe said it was the South Dakota State Fire Marshal and local officials who were investigating the cause.

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The fire at the lodge, located along Highway 79 at the base of Bear Butte, was reported at 4:29 a.m. on Thursday, according to the emergency management page.

The Meade County Sheriff's Office was the first agency to respond followed by the Sturgis, Fort Meade, Vale and Whitewood Fire Departments. Meade County Emergency Management and the State Fire Marshal also responded to the scene.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe's Tribal Land Enterprise, which manages the lodge and surrounding land, did not respond to a message from the Journal.

Bear Butte, or Mato Paha in Lakota, is a spiritual site for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and other tribes of the Oceti Sakowin. It's also sacred to the Cheyenne people.

Indigenous people have visited Bear Butte for thousands of years, artifacts show, and it has been a site of pilgrimage for everyday people and leaders including Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull and Frank Fools Crow.

The site is part of Bear Butte State Park, but Rosebud and other tribes own some of the land surrounding the formation.

— Contact Arielle Zionts at arielle.zionts@rapidcityjournal.com

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