Event Details

Learning Forum: History of the Ute Indians

November 3, 2019  2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Learning Forums are thought-provoking presentations on a wide variety of topics. Each program features a 45-minute presentation, followed by an open forum with questions and discussion about the topic.

This week, presenter and author Donovin Sprague presents, "History of the Ute Indians." Donovin Sprague tells us of the travels of the Ute Indians as they temporarily relocated to the Black Hills area in 1906 while living near Fort Meade and the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.

Sprague conducted a historic tour in 2006, which was the 100-year anniversary of the 1906 arrival of the Ute people who visited this region. The tribal members who traveled with him were from their Utah and Colorado homeland and descendants of the Utes who arrived here. They re-traced and visited the route that their ancestors traveled. He was also the keynote speaker at their Fort Duchesne High School graduation in Utah.

A Minnicoujou Lakota, Donovin Sprague was born and raised in Dupree, South Dakota on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation and is from the family of Hump and Crazy Horse.

In 1994, the City of Rapid City proclaimed March 23 “Donovin Sprague Day” for his work with improving American Indian/white relations.

Sprague is head of the history department at Sheridan College in Wyoming and has previously taught at Iowa State University, University of Iowa, University of Wyoming, Black Hills State University, and Oglala Lakota College.

He is a consultant to the Smithsonian National American Indian Museum and the new Museum of Westward Expansion at the archway in St. Louis, Missouri. His museum historical research and written captions are at the George Geye Center American Indian Smithsonian Museum in downtown New York City.

He is also a tour guide, an author of 10 books, a historian, an artisan, and a musician.

He received a Coat of Arms from the Queen of England and was selected as South Dakota Ziebach County Historian of the Year. He received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the South Dakota Humanities Council, and South Dakota West River History Conference Award (2018). 

He is a member of the Estate of Crazy Horse, Wounded Knee Survivors group, Ziebach County History Assn., Bozeman Trail History Assn., and South Dakota West River History Conference. He has a master's degree from the University of South Dakota plus 15 graduate hours.

He appears on the History Channel, History Detectives, Travel Channel, C-SPAN, National PBS TV, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, "Life and Times of Calamity Jane," and TV documentaries worldwide. He was a movie extra in "Lakota Woman." 

He was featured on the front page of the "Wall Street Journal" and was interviewed by "New Yorker Magazine" in September 2019. 

He presents at major universities in the U.S., Canada, and Europe and was a keynote speaker for the 150th anniversary of the Fetterman Fight (2016) and the 150th anniversary of the Wagon Box Fight (2017). He presented at the 150th anniversary of the Treaty of Fort Laramie Educational Symposium (2018) at the Brinton Museum in Sheridan, Wyoming. He was keynote speaker at the Fort Knox, Tennessee U.S. Army base and at Defense Logistics Information Systems in Battle Creek, Michigan for Native American Heritage Month celebrations. 

His 2018 visits and presentations were at the University of Frankfurt, Germany; Lucius D. Clay U.S. Army Garrison base at Wiesbaden, Germany; and Paris, France. His 2019 presentations include Native Peoples History Conference at Jim Gatchell Museum in Buffalo, Wyoming, the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, and Austin-Healey Annual Conference in Deadwood, South Dakota, and the Faculty Lecture Series at Sheridan College in Wyoming.

There will be a book signing with Donovin Sprague following the presentation. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, half-off for members. Call 605-394-6923 to reserve tickets. 

For more Learning Forums, click here.

Theater map below. Seats marked ADA indicate wheelchair accessibility. Blue seats indicate space for foldout chairs, but those with ADA requirements take first priority.

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The Journey Museum & Learning Center regularly adds new events, exhibits, and features to the expansive museum, covering American history, Black Hills history, and Native American culture.

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The Journey Museum is currently in Winter Hours:

Winter Hours

(October 1st – April 30th)
10 AM – 5 PM Monday through Saturday
1 PM – 5 PM Sundays

Summer Hours

(May 1st – September 30th)
9 AM – 6 PM Monday through Saturday
11 AM – 5 PM Sundays


All individual admissions are good for two days with receipt.

Museum General Admission:

Adults (ages 18+) $10
Seniors (ages 62+) $8
Students (ages 6 – 17) $7
Children 5 & under FREE with family

Groups (10+ people):

$7 per person

Tour guides available. Please call (605) 394-6923 one week prior to visit to schedule.

Education Groups (12+ students):

$3 per student (all students 18 and under)
$5 College Students

Chaperones are requested. Special pricing will be extended to adult chaperones.

Tour guides available. Please call (605) 394-6923 one week prior to visit to schedule.