The Lost Land

Around 1700, Sioux tribes on the prairies of western Minnesota hunted buffalo on foot. By the mid-1700s various tribes had gained access to horses, and by the turn of the 19th century the Oglala Sioux and other Plains Indians had developed a way of life that depended on mounted buffalo hunting. After gold was found in California in 1849 and in the Black Hills in 1874, prospectors, merchants, and settlers streamed into Sioux territory. The culture clash led to a series of broken treaties and unfavorable legislation, which confined the tribes to an ever shrinking area (maps, right). Meanwhile, the newcomers had all but exterminated the buffalo. In 1980 the Supreme Court ordered the U.S. government to pay for its appropriation of the Black Hills. With interest, the amount is now more than a billion dollars, but the Sioux won’t touch it. They want their land back.

Today

On Pine Ridge and five other reservations, the Sioux own five million acres of their original treaty land. Through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, tribes can arrange leases of reservation land, used mainly for grazing. Some leases go to Indians, others to outsiders. Because of the way land was originally allotted, the Sioux have been left with the least productive tracts.

LIFE EXPECTANCY
PINE RIDGE RESERVATION
(SHANNON COUNTY)

76.5 United States


SUICIDES PER 100,000 
PINE RIDGE RESERVATION
(SHANNON COUNTY)

10.9 United State States

INFANT MORTALITY PER 1,000 BIRTHS
PINE RIDGE RESERVATION
(SHANNON COUNTY)

6.8 United StatesStates


ANNUAL PER CAPITA INCOME
PINE RIDGE RESERVATION
(SHANNON COUNTY)

$27,334 United State States

LIVER DISEASE DEATHS PER 100,000
PINE RIDGE RESERVATION
(SHANNON COUNTY)

9.7 Unites States States


%

POVERTY RATE
PINE RIDGE RESERVATION
(SHANNON COUNTY)

13.8% United StatesStates

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