Article & Photos By: Kelly Quinn aka Throttle Girl
Originally Published In The December 2016 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
It’s no doubt riders have a special place in their heart for Sturgis and what it means to them; for me, in addition to seeing friends and riding some of the best roads in the country, I’ve found myself honored to rally with the people that have called the Black Hills their home for centuries, the Oglala Lakota. Hosting the Lakota Heritage Ride & Celebration benefiting ONE Spirit, the only tribal endorsed nonprofit on Pine Ridge, has become an integral part of my Sturgis experience. This year, our third annual event, held on Wednesday August 10th provided a priceless experience for all those involved. The goal this year was to plan an event focused on a small group of riders for an intimate experience. I reached out to my I friend Kevin Bean’re asking if he’d like to help, I knew he was the man for the adventure in front of us. After coming on board we got to it, putting word out on the street and the rest was history. I found myself incredibly stoked day of, familiar faces of those who have been on every years ride thus far, new faces from word of mouth and industry bad asses and fellow lady riding friends such as Laura Klock and Betsy Huelskamp who joined in the day’s rally factor.
The morning check-in started at the Caputa Store, just 5 miles east of the Rapid City Airport on Hwy 44. Once everyone was checked in and fueled up on high octane and caffeine we were off to Scenic, the first stop along the 80-mile ride. A sleepy little ‘ghost town’ bordering Badlands NP. The back drop provided a perfect place to brief riders, snap a few photos and have our bikes blessed by a traditional Lakota prayer, smudging each rider with white sage before heading onto reservation land. Our next stop Wounded Knee. We arrived to meet local vendors selling their hand made goods, giving riders the opportunity to purchase gifts while stimulating the local economy. Then the reality set in, the ground we were standing on marked by a mass grave on the hill in front of us was not one of the proudest moments in US history and was incredibly heavy. When planning the ride, we felt it an important stop along the day’s journey, sharing with riders the reality of some of the experiences that have enabled the position the Lakota find themselves in today. The intension not to feed the struggle but to honor and respect the past, acceptance doesn’t mean we have to like it. Riders were now ready to fully embrace what we came to rally for…
Upon arrival to Kiza Park we found the celebration in full swing, complete with horses roaming freely. The ‘Unity Tipi’ from last year’s event was set up, traditional Wojapi and Fry Bread were being served. The stage was being set up and preparations for the Buffalo BBQ being made. It was then time to trade in our ‘Iron Horses’ for ‘Iconic Horses,’ gearing up to ride the hills in front of us just as the Lakota have for hundreds of years. Deeply rooted traditional horse culture it became apparent to me while we saddled up that both the Lakota and guest riders shared an immediate strong common bond, we both know the same feeling that resonates deep in our souls, gifted to us by the freedom felt when riding… it made so much sense to me. This ride was no nose to ass trail ride we embarked on, Lakota Trails offered us an experience unlike any typical horseback riding any of us had ever experienced. We had hundreds of acres of rolling ‘Buffalo Pasture’ to roam wherever we wanted. Two hours later, we all returned unable to walk normally but somehow the overall consensus, stories and smiles confirmed it was more than worth it. We broke bread with a prepared Buffalo BBQ as the celebration continued. Traditional Lakota song, vendors, silent action featuring Ledger Art and the raffle began. We had many amazing sponsors donate prizes: Klock Werks, Kuryakyn, Legend Suspensions, Klim, Butler Motorcycle Maps, REVER and Metzler Tires made a plentiful booty for our special group. Just when it couldn’t get better, nationally recognized Lakota recording Alter-Native Rock band, ‘Scatter Their Own’ took time out of their touring schedule to entertain us. As the sun began to set, we knew we it was going to be hard to say good-bye. Laura Klock added the cherry on top of the day by taking the local children in her sidecar for rides around the park; it was a perfect end to the perfect day.
Above and beyond the financial contribution (campaign is still open) raised this year, everyone who participated is now bonded for life, more so than by the two wheels or four legs they rode in on. Betsy Huelskamp is quoted saying, “In the decades of coming to Sturgis, this was the best event I have ever been too.” Oglala Lakota Tribe Vice President has passed a message on that stated, “This event is good for our people. It is the first time the Lakota people have felt honored and respected during Rally.” These are words that make me incredibly proud to be part of something so much larger than we all may ever realize. I hope to see you all next year for the fourth annual Lakota Heritage Ride & Celebration to experience for yourself the epitome of a true Black Hills experience and while we’re at it, we’ll move far more than just wheels! Thank you to all those who came out to participate this year, to the volunteers and to the sponsors who made it all possible! You know what to do…Throttle Up!
Pine Ridge Reservation is statistically the second largest impoverished nation in the world behind Haiti right here on American soil. For more information on ONE Spirit and to find out how you can become involved with the ‘End Hunger on the Rez’ campaign, please visit ONE Spirit at Nativeprogress.org, donations and sponsorships are a 24- 7, 365 day a year need, both hunger and ONE Spirit’s project goals don’t take holidays or days off.