The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
And the Strong, Enduring Oglala Lakota People
South Dakota is the land of the great Lakota Nation; there are 9 Indian Reservations in South Dakota: The Pine Ridge Reservation, home of the Oglala (Scatter Their Own). The Rosebud Reservation of the Sicangu (Burnt Thight). The Standing Rock Reservation of the Hunkpapa, "Camp At The Entrance" and the Sihasapa (Blackfeet). The Cheyenne River Reservation; home of the Minnecoujou (Planters By The Water), the Oohe Nunpa (Two Kettle), the Itazipco (Without Bows) and Siha Sapa (Black Foot). The Crow Creek Reservation is home to the Dakota: Mdewakanton (people of the spirit Lake) and the Ihanktonwan (people of the end). Lower Brule Reservation of Sicangu, (Burnt Thight or Brule) or also called Kul Wicasa Oyate.The Sisseton Wahpeton Reservation (formerly known as Lake Traverse Reservation) is home of the Sisseton (People of the Fish Village/Penisula) and the Wahpeton (People among the Leaves). The Yankton Reservation is home of the Ihanktonwan Dakota Oyate and the Flandreau Santee Reservation is home of the Mdewakanton and Wahpekute Dakota.
The Pine Ridge Reservation is located in the South Western corner of South Dakota and with 2,800,000 acres it is the second largest Indian reservation in the USA. This is the land of the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe, and is home of approx 40,000 Oglala Lakota. It seems to be a very difficult task to count the residents on the Pine Ridge Reservation; the current surveys vary 15,000 (us census) and 47,197 (OST Census Office10/2008 in Pine Ridge). The Oglala Lakota Oyate have a history with proud names like Tasunke Witko (Crazy Horse), Black Elk, American Horse, Red Cloud, Young Man Afraid Of His Horse, Little Wound and many more. The Pine Ridge Reservation is situated within the Shannon County where the Per-capita income makes it the second poorest County in the USA with an average annual income of $ 3,700.00 and an unemployment rate of 80%. Shannon County also has the highest population rate of Native Americans in the United States, and the lowest percentage of Caucasians. Residents suffer from serious illnesses like diabetes, heart disease and chronic health conditions at levels vastly disproportionate to the national average. The life expectancy rate on this reservation is 48 years for men and 52 years for women. The school dropout rate is over 50%, the incidence of teen suicide is 150% above the national average. Almost 50% of the residents on the Pine Ridge Reservation live under the poverty level. Even in the year 2011 there are still residents on the reservation without plumbing facilities, without kitchen facilities and no electricity. Despite of these harsh conditions, despite of poverty and suppression, the Lakota people still proudly live a rich culture, work toward maintaining the cultural heritage and toward the revival of their language. Nowadays only about 4% of the Lakota are fluent Lakota speakers and most of these speakers are over 50 years old. It appears the Lakota speakers are declining; according to the US Census 2000 there were only 26% of the Lakota Population on the Pine Ridge Reservation fluent Lakota Speakers. This means less than a third are able to speak the Lakota language. In the year 2003 we have 3% Lakota speakers on this reservation. The language will disappear if the schools don't start intensively with immersion programs implementing the Lakota language into the curriculum.