UPDATE: South Dakota Mystery Solved: Turns Out It IS a Bomb Target


Ever since this image of a 2,000-foot bullseye-looking plot of land in Western South Dakota was splashed all over social media last week, people have been trying to figure out exactly what it is.

It all began with a Reddit post from user u/patchesandbrownie who claimed to have found they believed was a 'bomb target' in western South Dakota.

The plot of land in question is situated between Badlands National Park and the banks of the White River, about 24 miles southwest of Wall.

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The exact coordinates on Google Maps are 43°39'17"N 102°19'55"W.

The mystery was picked up by media outlets worldwide, including the British newspaper The Daily Star.

The guesses began pouring in quickly on social media: nuclear testing, calibrating targeting systems for weapons, or something associated with the space program.

But one two-word comment from 'Dude in S. Dakota' on the website Newsbreak may have finally settled the debate:

Medicine Wheel

So what exactly is a medicine wheel?

The Native Voices section of the National Library of Medicine website provides us with some history:

Different tribes interpret the Medicine Wheel differently. Each of the Four Directions (East, South, West, and North) is typically represented by a distinctive color, such as black, red, yellow, and white, which for some stands for the human races. The Directions can also represent:

  • Stages of life: birth, youth, adult (or elder), death
  • Seasons of the year: spring, summer, winter, fall
  • Aspects of life: spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical
  • Elements of nature: fire (or sun), air, water, and earth
  • Animals: Eagle, Bear, Wolf, Buffalo, and many others
  • Ceremonial plants: tobacco, sweetgrass, sage, cedar

As for how the wheel can be presented, this sentence may tell us all we need to know:

The Medicine Wheel can take many different forms. It can be an artwork such as an artifact or painting, or it can be a physical construction on the land.

The website says there are hundreds or even thousands of Medicine Wheels on Native lands all over North America.

Bighorn Medicine Wheel - Wyoming
Google Maps

An example is this one surrounded by the Bighorn National Forest in North Central Wyoming, just South of the Montana border.

Bomb Target/Medicine Wheel
Google Maps

As you can see from this side-by-side comparison, we may have our answer.


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