PINE RIDGE (SIOUX RESERVATION)
PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION
Pine Ridge Reservation was originally part of the Great Sioux Reservation which was created by treaty with the U.S. Government in 1868. The Great Sioux Reservation included the whole of South Dakota west of the Missouri River.
During the years in the 1800's several treaties were entered into between the Sioux and the U.S. Government. With each new treaty the Sioux lost more land until finally, in 1889 the Great Sioux Reservation was reduced to five separate reservations, one was the Pine Ridge Reservation.
This reduction of Tribal lands to a reservation with defined boundaries by the U.S. Congress in the Act of March 2, 1889, which identified all the Lakota/Dakota reservations, is known as the Great Sioux Settlement. The Oglala Sioux Tribal government maintains jurisdiction within the boundaries of the reservation including all rights-of-way, waterways, watercourses and streams running through any part of the reservation and to such others lands as may hereafter be added to the reservation under the laws of the United States. The Tribal government operates under a constitution consistent with the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 and approved by the Tribal membership and Tribal Council of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. The Tribe is governed by an elected body consisting of a 5 member Executive Committee and a 19 member Tribal Council, all of whom serve a two year term.
The Tribal Council President is the administrative head of the Tribe and is assisted by the Executive Committee which consists of the Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Fifth Member. The President and Vice-President of the Tribal Council are elected at large and the remainders are selected by the Tribal Council. Pine Ridge Reservation is home to the Oglala Lakota who are members of a major Sioux division known as the Western or Teton Sioux. Pine Ridge has a tribal membership that totals 35,000 plus. One third of the total population report Lakota as their first language.
Pine Ridge Reservation Districts:
1. Eagle Nest 2. LaCreek 3. Medicine Root 4. Pass Creek 5. Pine Ridge 6. Porcupine 7. Wakpamni 8. White Clay 9. Wounded Knee
Tribal/Agency Headquarters: Pine Ridge, SD
Counties: Bennett, Jackson, Shannon
Enrolled membership: 45,364
Reservation Native Population: 30,000
Unemployment rates: 80%
Language: Lakota, English
Lakota Bands: Oglala
Land Status: Acres
Total Area 2,000,000
Tribal Owned: 706,3
Allotted Owned: 1,064,840
Total Tribal/Allotted Owned: 1,771,180
Government Owned: 1,536
Non-Indian Owned: Not available
Reservoir Taken area: Not available
The Pine Ridge Reservation is situated in southwestern South Dakota on the Nebraska state line, about 50 miles east of the Wyoming border. The area includes over 11,000 square miles contained in three counties; Bennett, Jackson, and Shannon counties in South Dakota. Pine Ridge, Kyle, Oglala, and Wanblee are the largest communities on the reservation. Other smaller communities include Manderson, Porcupine, Red Shirt, and Wounded Knee.
The three diverse geographic regions within the service unit borders make Pine Ridge one of the most scenic service units within the Aberdeen Area. The southern and eastern section of the service unit consists of wide open grassy plains. In the west central section the prairie merges into the small eastern spurs of the Black Hills which are further to the west. The result is an area of rolling pine covered hills and ridges, providing the inspiration for the name Pine Ridge. To the north of the wooded area are approximately 160,000 acres of badlands, characterized by roughly eroded ridges, peaks, and mesas. The badlands are known for their panoramic beauty created by the shapes and colors of the land formations.
The Pine Ridge reservation is home to the Oglala Sioux Tribe. The Reservation is located in southwestern South Dakota with Fall River and Custer County lines as the western border with the Badlands and Jackson County as the northern border joining the Rosebud Reservation on the northeast corner. The Todd County line is the eastern boundary and the Nebraska border is the southern boundary of the reservation. The total land area of the Pine Ridge reservation is 2.8 million acres with 1.7 million acres tribally or individually owned. The land is an integral part of the Lakota culture and the economic base of the reservation.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe is part of the Great Sioux Nation of the Titowan Division. The Great Sioux Nation recognizes our land base in accordance with the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. The Great Sioux Nation extended from the Big Horn Mountains in the west to the eastern Wisconsin. The territory extended from Canada in the north to the Republican River in Kansas in the south. The Great Sioux Nation was reduced in the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty from the Big Horn Mountains in the west to the east side of the Missouri River, the Heart River in North Dakota in the north and the Platte River in Nebraska to the south. This includes the entire western half of South Dakota. The Black Hills are located in the center the Great Sioux Nation. The Black Hills are sacred to the Lakota/ Dakota people and today considered an important part of our spiritual lives. Despite all the adversity encountered by the Oglala they remain a people of vitality, hopefulness, and with their cultural identity intact.
Distance, weather conditions, and the lack of automobiles are the major deterrents to access at Pine Ridge. There is limited public transportation on the reservation. Almost all travel is by private car. However, not all residents have access to a car and must depend upon friends or relatives for rides. Many people walk to reach their destination, but the distance between communities and weather conditions limits this activity. Consequently, a combination of hitchhiking and walking has become common.
Highway 18 travels across the reservation from east to northwest and is the major artery. Other paved major all-weather roads include S.D. 87, 29, and 75, and BIA 2, 27, 28, 40, and 41. Isolated homes and communities are serviced by gravel roads. Most homes on the reservation are inaccessible during periods of blizzards or heavy rain.
There is an approved paved landing strip near the Pine Ridge community, in the southwestern corner of the reservation, where the administrative headquarters for the IHS Service Unit, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Tribal Government, and state agencies are located. Kyle, the approximate geographic center of the reservation, is the second largest community and the headquarters for the Oglala Lakota College. The third major community is Wanblee in the extreme northeast corner of the reservation. Numerous small villages and settlements are scattered throughout the reservation.
The only major city within a couple hours driving distance from Pine Ridge is Rapid City, population 64,500. Chadron, Gordon and Rushville, all located in Nebraska and are all within driving distance, but none have a population over 5,000.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe major economic occupation is cattle ranching and farming for tribal operators. The Tribe operates a large Parks and Recreation Department, guided hunting for small game, big game, including buffalo and elk. The Tribe also operates the Prairie Wind Casino including black jack, poker, and slot machines. Commercial businesses by private operators include: grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, video arcades, fast food shops, and arts and handcrafts.
The majority of employment is provided by the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Oglala Lakota College, Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian Health Service, and the Prairie Winds Casino.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe sponsors an annual pow wow the first week in August. This event also includes a rodeo, outdoor concert, softball tournament, basketball tournament, and numerous other activities. There are other pow wows held year round in the various communities for holidays and within the schools that participate in our cultural history such as honoring, and celebrations.
The Tribe operates the Prairie Winds Casino with black jack, poker, and slot machines. The Casino also operates a Hotel with 30 rooms, an indoor pool, conference room, and a restaurant.
The community of Pine Ridge has a campground near the pow wow grounds and a number of lakes for fishing, and a Boys and Girls Club for the younger generation. During the year other sports activities such as softball, volleyball, and basketball tournaments are also held where facilities are available.
Electric utility services for the Pine Ridge Reservation are provided by LaCreek Rural Electric Cooperative, Black Hills Power and Light and Nebraska Power and Light. The Golden West Telecommunications Company provides telephone service to the reservation and cellular service is also available. Cable TV service is available in several of the communities on the Reservation. The Tribe operates the Water and Sewer Department and Solid Waste Program for the communities. The Mni Wiconi Project is under construction to supply drinking water from the Missouri River to the communities that do not have potable water or are served by wells with poor water quality.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe provides an elderly nutrition program, and sponsors community activities. Youth recreational activities are provided through local organizations including a rodeo club. Health care is provided by the Indian Health Service at the Pine Ridge Hospital and Health Center Clinic in coordination with the Tribal Health Department Community Health Representative and Ambulance Service. The Health Department also provides examinations and eyeglasses to all residents at reduced rates.
Public housing on the reservation is managed by the Oglala Sioux Tribal Housing Authority. The Authority has constructed housing for approximately 43% of the approximately 2,300 families on the reservation. The Housing Authority manages housing units in the communities on scattered rural sites through HUD Low Rent and Mutual Help home ownership housing programs. Other housing is available through the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Service for their employees. Private housing stock is limited.
The housing has been apportioned to the nine (9) districts by population and need. The Housing Authority is working on reducing the backlog of substandard housing and also to construct houses for approximately 4% of the families that do not have any housing of their own.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe desires to continue their progress in providing for our people and the development of increased self-sufficiency. The Tribe continues to explore means to develop Tribal resources and pursue other business development initiatives. There are plans to develop cultural resources to preserve and educate Tribal members and non-members. The development of tourism will strengthen the economy on the reservation. The Oglala Sioux Tribe will continue to search for ways to maintain our culture and develop new economic opportunities for our future generations