Overview of the Pine Ridge Reservation: Home to the Oglala Sioux
Today there are 18 First Nations in Canada and 17 Tribes in the United States who are the descendants of the Ocheti Sakowin, or Sioux Nation. The largest of the Sioux divisions, representing the majority of the Teton Sioux, are the Lakota of the Pine Ridge Reservation who number around 100,000. They reside near the Sacred Black Hills of South Dakota. The Lakota, Nakota and Dakota Nation (also known as the Great Sioux Nation) descends from of the original inhabitants of North America and can be divided into three major linguistic and geographic groups: Lakota (Teton, West Dakota), Nakota (Yankton, Central Dakota) and Dakota (Santee, Eastern Dakota). These groups are further divided into 7 bands which have many sub-divisions. Some of the most famous Indian chiefs come from the Sioux Nation, including Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, Rain-in-the-Face, and Gall. Black Elk was a famous Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux.
The Pine Ridge reservation is home to the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
The Oglala Sioux Tribal members are descendants of the Tetonwan Division of the Great Sioux Nation.
The Lakota Nation includes Oglala, Brule, Hunkpapa, Blackfoot, Minnecoujou, No Bows and Two Kettle.
The Yankton and Yanktonais are called the Wiceyala or Middle Sioux.
Four bands of the Isanti, or Stone Knife People, including the Mdewankanton, Wahpetonwan, Wahpekute, and Sissetonwan comprise the Eastern Division of the Sioux Nation.
OGLALA SIOUX TRIBAL GOVERNMENT:
The United States Government as defined by the
United States Constitution has governmental relationships with
International, Tribal, and State entities. The Tribal nations
have a government-to-government relationship with the United
States. The Tribes of the Great Sioux Nation signed treaties in
the 1824, 1851, and 1868 with the United States which are the
legal documents that established our boundaries and recognized
our rights as a sovereign government.
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
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 16 member Tribal Council, all of whom serve a
four year term.
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The Tribal Council Chairman is the
administrative head of the Tribe and is assisted by the Executive
Committee which consists of the President, Vice-President,
Secretary, Treasurer, Fifth Member, and the Sgt. At Arms. The
President and Vice-President of the Tribal Council are elected at
large and the remainder are elected from their districts by the
Pine Ridge 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 17,775. One
third of the total population report Lakota as their first
Pine Ridge Reservation Districts:
|1. Eagle Nest
||4. Pass Creek
||5. Pine Ridge
||8. White Clay
|3. Medicine Root
||9. Wounded Knee
||Pine Ridge, SD
||Bennett, Jackson, Shannon,
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 seven counties; Bennett, Custer, Fall
River, Jackson, and Shannon counties in South Dakota. Pine Ridge,
Kyle, and Wanblee are the largest communities on the reservation.
Other smaller communities include Manderson, Oglala, 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
sections 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 Bennett 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 Great Sioux Nation is also called The
Lakota/Dakota/Nakota Nation. The people of the Sioux Nation refer
to themselves as Lakota or Dakota which means friend or ally. The
United States government took the word Sioux from (Nadowesioux),
which comes from a Chippewa (Ojibway) word which means little
snake or enemy. The French traders and trappers who worked with
the Chippewa( Ojibway) people shortened the word to Sioux.
The Oglala Sioux Tribal members are descendants
of the Tetonwan Division of the Great Sioux Nation. The Lakota
Nation includes Oglala, Brule, Hunkpapa, Blackfoot, Minnecoujou,
No Bows and Two Kettle. The Lakotas speak an "L"
dialect of Siouan language and were expert horsemen and buffalo
hunters on the plains. The Yankton and Yanktonais are called the
Wiceyala or Middle Sioux. Four bands of the Isanti, or Stone
Knife People, including the Mdewankanton, Wahpetonwan, Wahpekute,
and Sissetonwan comprise the Eastern Division of the Sioux
Nation. The Yanktonias speak the "N" dialect and the
Isanti speak the "D" dialect of Siouan language. The
Yanktonais and the Isanti were a river-plains people who did some
farming as well as buffalo hunting.
The government identified all the Tribes with
similar languages as the Sioux people. The oral tradition of our
people state that the Lakota and Dakota people were one nation.
The Lakota people moved away and formed their own nation. The
Lakota/Dakota/Nakota people still practice their sacred and
traditional ceremonies which encompass the seven rites of Lakota
religion brought by the White Buffalo Calf Woman.
Social activities such as powwow, rodeos, and
races are celebrated in the summer months. Special powwows held
for individuals who accomplished a stage in their lives such as
graduation or acceptance into the armed forces with traditional
honoring ceremonies, give away, and feasts to celebrate the
accomplishments. The oral tradition is still passed down from the
elders to the youth.
The future of our people is in the hands of our
children. The children of the Great Sioux Nation will bring us
into the 21st century with pride.
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. A direct violation of the 1868 Treaty was
committed in 1874 by General George A. Custer and his 7th
Cavalry. The 7th Cavalry entered the Black Hills, the center of
the Great Sioux Nation and found gold in the Black Hills. The
Gold Rush started the conflict between the United States and
Great Sioux Nation. The Great Sioux Nation opposite this
violation of the treaty. The United States Government wanted to
buy or rent the Black Hills from the Lakota people. The Great
Sioux Nation refused to sell or rent their sacred lands.
The 7th Cavalry under General George A. Custer
was requested to bring the Sioux bands in and place them on the
reservation lands. On June 15, 1876, the Battle of the Little Big
Horn between the 7th Cavalry and Lakota Nation with their allies
Cheyenne and Araphoes at Greasy Grass, Montana took place. The
Sioux Nation won a victory over General George A. Custer and his
The Great Sioux Nation scattered, some to
Canada and others surrendered to the reservations. The United
States Government demanded that the Lakota nation move to the
reservations. The people finally surrendered after being cold and
hungry and moved on the reservations. The government still
insisted buying the Black Hills from the Lakota people. The Sioux
(Lakota) Nation refused to sell their sacred lands. The United
States Government introduced the Sell or Starve Bill or the
Agreement of 1877. The Lakota people starved but refused to sell
their sacred land so the U.S. Congress illegally took the Black
Hills from the Great Sioux Nation. The Allotment Act of 1888
allotted Indian lands into 160-acre lots to individuals to divide
the nation. The Act of 1889 broke up the Great Sioux Nation into
smaller reservations, the remainder of which exist today at about
one half their original size in 1889.
Many of the Lakota people began believed in the
Ghost Dance experiences as the movement spread to the
reservations. The U. S. Army feared the unity through prayer
among the Tribes and ordered the arrest of Sitting Bull on the
Standing Rock Reservation. In the process of the arrest Sitting
Bull was shot by Indian Police on December 15, 1890.
The Hunkpapa who lived in Sitting Bull's camp
and relatives fled to the south onto the Cheyenne River
Reservation. They joined the Big Foot Band in Cherry Creek, South
Dakota then traveled to the Pine Ridge reservation to meet with
Chief Red Cloud. The 7th Cavalry caught them at a place called
Wounded Knee on December 29, 1890. The 7th Cavalry took all the
weapons from the Lakota people. The 7th Cavalry massacred 300
people at Wounded Knee and left the bodies to freeze in the snow.
The people of the Great Sioux Nation slowly recovered from this
injustice and continue to survive in their homeland.
Of all the reservations in the Dakotas, Pine
Ridge is the one most noted on the National level. Several
possible explanations for this recognition exist. First, in early
reservation history Pine Ridge was the site of the 1890 tragedy
at Wounded Knee Creek in which most of Chief Big Foot's band of
Minneconjou Teton Sioux were annihilated by the Seventh Cavalry.
In more recent history, National media attention was focused on
the 1973 armed occupation of the community of Wounded Knee by
members of the American Indian Movement (AIM). Despite all the
adversity encountered by the Oglala they remain a people of
vitality, hopefulness, and with their cultural identity intact.
The climate of the reservation is typical of
the Northern Great Plains with extremes during the summer and
winter that vary from 105 to -30 F respectively. The average
temperatures range from 74 in July, to 21 F in January. The
normal precipitation for the year averages 19 inches.
Distance, weather conditions, and the lack of
automobiles are the major deterrents to access at Pine Ridge.
There is no 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
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.
Pine Ridge community, in the southwestern
corner of the reservation, is the administrative headquarters for
the Service Unit, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Tribal
Government, and state agencies. Kyle, the approximate geographic
center of the reservation, is the second largest community and
the headquarters for the Community College system. 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
57,700. Chadron, Gordon and Rushville, NE are all within driving
distance, but none have a population over 5,000.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe’s 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
and the Cedar Pass Lodge which includes a motel, restaurant and
gift shop. The Tribe also operates the Praire Wind Casino
including black jack, poker, and slot machines.
Commercial business by private operators
include grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations,
laundromat, video arcades, fast food shops, and arts and
The majority of employment is provided by the
Oglala Sioux Tribe, Oglala Lakota College, Bureau of Indian
Affairs, the Indian Health Service, and the Praire Winds Casino.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe has some of finest
hunting and fishing around with guided hunts provided by the
Parks and Recreation Department.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe sponsors an annual pow
wow the fourth week in August. This event also includes a rodeo,
outdoor concert, and a softball tournament. There are pow wows
held year round in the various communities for holidays and
The Tribe operates the Praire Winds Casino with
black jack, poker, and slot machines. Tribal organizations
sponsor high stakes bingo games most nights of the week.
The community of Pine Ridge has a campground
near the pow wow grounds and a number of lakes for fishing and
swimming. During the year other sports activities such as
softball, volleyball, and basketball tournaments are also held
during the year.
Electric utility services for the Pine Ridge
Reservation are provided by LaCreek and .............The Golden
West Telecommunications Company provides telephone service to the
reservation. A tribal member provides cable TV service in the
Pine Ridge community. The Tribe operates the water department,
and solid waste collection for the communities. The Mni Wiconi
Project is under construction to supply clean 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 an 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 Crow Creek Sioux Tribe will continue to search
for ways to maintain our culture and develop new economic
opportunities for our future generations.
Terrain: Rolling hills, woodlands, river
valleys and creeks dominate the reservation.
Environmental Problem Statement: In
1997, Tribal environmental staff identified the need for
landfill construction, solid waste collection, and a plan for
landfill closure as the major reservation
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Today's Mail Bag:
I am trying to find out how to register on the Creek Indian registry.I am also trying to find out what website or telephone number to call so I can get this info.
--Submitted by Jon T.
Answer: Read the answer here