‘We have to be visible': Medicine Wheel Ride takes MMIW to Sturgis

Nora Mabie

Every summer, hundreds of thousands of riders, locals and tourists flock to Sturgis, South Dakota, for its famous 10-day motorcycle rally.

Many who attend are white men.

But this year, and for the last two years, there will be at least 200 Indigenous riders, participating in a Medicine Wheel Ride to raise awareness for the missing and murdered Indigenous women epidemic.

The FBI’s National Crime Information Center in 2021 reported 5,203 missing Indigenous women, though experts say the numbers are likely higher.  

Lorna Cuny, who is Oglala Lakota, co-founded the Medicine Wheel Ride group. Cuny said the organization worked with Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen to declare the first Sunday of the rally a missing and murdered Indigenous women awareness day. This year, the Medicine Wheel Ride will begin at 8 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 7. Riders will travel more than 70 miles from Bear Butte State Park to Crazy Horse Memorial.

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Cuny grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation and now lives in Rapid City.

“For me, being local, growing up around here, and seeing the rally, it’s like, why shouldn’t we be here?” she said.

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