Chief Iron Nation’s Monument

Iron Nation died on November 14, 1894 in the Iron Nation District of the Lower Brule Reservation as the tribe’s last Head Chief. He was laid to rest at the Iron Nation Messiah cemetery. The monument erected at the gravesite is the first monument ever erected at the grave of a Lakota (Sioux) Chief in the history of South Dakota.

The people of Lower Brule erected over his grave a nearly 7-ft tall granite monument with the following words:

We, the Lower Brule Indians
put up this stone in memory of our
dear Head Chief
Solomon Iron Nation
Who died November 14, 1894,
Aged 79 years.
Children, Love one another.

Messiah Episcopal Church Cemetery where Iron Nation is buried

Messiah Episcopal Church Cemetery where Iron Nation is buried, on the Lower Brule Reservation in South Dakota.

Iron Nation’s gravesite is on the South Dakota Historic Register and in the United States Department of Interior Park Service National Register of Historic Places.

To Visit Chief Iron Nation’s Monument

Chief Iron Nation’s monument is located in a rural corner of the Lower Brule Indian Reservation. Google Maps is available for finding the monument, however the directions below are also provided if you wish to visit. The gated cemetery is in a pasture; so be sure to rehook the gate upon leaving to keep animals out.

If you wish to visit, be sure to wear long pants and sturdy shoes or boots. Be careful walking through tall grass due to rattlesnakes. This is a very real danger.

From Chamberlain:

  1. Head West out of Chamberlain on I-90.
  2. Continue west past Reliance even though the sign says Lower Brule.
    Historical note: In the far distance to the North you will be looking at Medicine Butte which is on the reservation and is the highest point in SD other than the Black Hills.
  3. Take Exit 235 – Kennebec — Highway 273N.
  4. Continue on 273 N until it dead-ends at Highway 1806.
  5. At this point turn right – (East.) Here Hwy. 1806 becomes Lower Brule 10.
  6. Go 6.0 miles east. You will come to the top of a hill. There will be a sign that says Iron Nation North.
  7. Turn left – North on gravel road. 321 Ave.
    Note: At this point you should see the Messiah Episcopal church off to the Northeast
  8. Go 1.2 miles N – green/blue mailbox on left – turn RIGHT east toward the church .
  9. Go past a farmhouse on right. At this point you will see a grass trail on your right angling off toward the cemetery. Take this trail.
  10. Drive to cattle gate in to the cemetery. If closed, take the gate down (be sure to rehook it when you leave to keep the cattle out!!)
  11. Iron Nation grave site (plot with 9 graves) is in the southeast corner of cemetery. There is a prominent historical marker and a wrought iron fence around the site, so it’s easy to see.

From Pierre:

  1. Cross Missouri River into Ft. Pierre on Highway 83 south.
  2. Proceed out of Ft. Pierre for about 3-4 miles.
  3. You will see a sign that says 1806 –  Lower Brule – 56 miles. Turn left here.
  4. Continue on Highway 1806 for  40.1 miles – to the intersection of 273 S (to Kennebec).
  5. At this point Hwy. 1806 becomes Lower Brule 10.
  6. Go 6.0 miles east. You will come to the top of a hill. There will be a sign that says Iron Nation North.
  7. Turn left – North on gravel road. 321 Ave.
    Note: At this point you should see the Messiah Episcopal church off to the Northeast
  8. Go 1.2 miles N – green/blue mailbox on left – turn RIGHT east toward the church .
  9. Go past a farmhouse on right. At this point you will see a grass trail on your right angling off toward the cemetery. Take this trail.
  10. Drive to cattle gate in to the cemetery. If closed, take the gate down (be sure to rehook it when you leave to keep the cattle out!!)
  11. Iron Nation grave site (plot with 9 graves) is in the southeast corner of cemetery. There is a prominent historical marker and a wrought iron fence around the site, so it’s easy to see.
Satellite Map of Iron Nation burial site

Satellite view of Iron Nation Monument