Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (Oglala Oyanke in Lakota) is an Oglala Sioux Native American reservation located in the U.S. state of South Dakota. Pine Ridge was established in the southwest corner of South Dakota on the Nebraska border and consists of 8,984.306 km² (3,468.86 sq mi) of land area, the eighth-largest reservation in the United States, larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined. Most of the land comprising the reservation lies within Shannon County and Jackson County, two of the poorest counties in the U.S. In addition, there are extensive off-reservation trust lands, mostly in adjacent Bennett County, but also extending into adjacent Whiteclay, Nebraska in Sheridan County, just south of the community of Pine Ridge, the reservation's administrative center and largest community. The 2000 census population of all these lands was 15,521. However, a study conducted by Colorado State University and accepted by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development estimate the resident population to be approximately 28,000.

Life in the Pine Ridge Reservation is very poor, probably easily comparable to the least developed countries of the Third World. Unemployment on the Reservation hovers around 85% and 97% live below the Federal poverty level. Average annual family income is $3,800 as of 1999. Adolescent suicide is 4 times the National average. Many of the families have no electricity, telephone, running water, or sewer. Many families use wood stoves to heat their homes. The population on Pine Ridge has among the shortest life expectancies of any group in the Western Hemisphere: approximately 47 years for males and in the low 50s for females. The infant mortality rate is five times the United States national average.

Despite the lack of formal employment opportunities on Pine Ridge, there is a great deal of agricultural production taking place, yet only a small percentage of the tribe directly benefits from this. According to the USDA, in 2002 there was nearly 33 million dollars in receipts from agricultural production on Pine Ridge, yet less than 1/3rd of that income went to members of the tribe USDA 2002 Census of Agriculture for Native American Reservations.

Pine Ridge Reservation was originally part of the Great Sioux Reservation established in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 and originally encompassed approximately 60 million acres (240,000 km²) of parts of South Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming. In 1876, the U.S. government violated the treaty of 1868 by opening up 7.7 million acres (31,000 km²) of the Black Hills to homesteaders and private interests. In 1889 the remaining area of Great Sioux Reservation was divided into seven separate reservations: Cheyenne River Agency, Crow Creek Agency, Lower Brule Agency, Rosebud Agency, Sisseton Agency, Yankton Agency and Pine Ridge Agency.

Starting on February 27, 1973, the reservation was the site of the Wounded Knee Incident, a 71-day stand-off between entrenched American Indian Movement (AIM) activists and FBI agents and the National Guard. Some 200 activists occupied the site of the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre in protest of poor conditions on the reservations. In the months after the stand-off ended peacefully, a number of murders of those opposed to the tribal government installed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs took place, many of which were never solved.

On June 26, 1975, the reservation was the site of an armed confrontation between AIM activists and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation in an event which became known as the Pine Ridge Shootout. This resulted in the death of two FBI agents and one Native American, Joe Stuntz. The hunt for the killer(s) of the two FBI agents led to the controversial extradition, trial, and conviction of the AIM member Leonard Peltier.

On February 24, 1976, Anna Mae Aquash, a Mi'kmaq activist and member of AIM, was found shot to death by the side of State Road 73 in the far northeast corner of the Pine Ridge Reservation. In February, 2004, Fritz Arlo Looking Cloud, a homeless Lakota man, was tried and convicted of her murder. He was given a mandatory sentence of life in prison. John Graham, a Southern Tutchone Athabascan man from Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, was also indicted for the murder. He is presently appealing an order for his extradition to face trial in the U.S. The alleged motive for the murder was the mistaken belief that Ms. Aquash was a government informant.

On March 21, 2006, Oglala Sioux tribal president Cecilia Fire Thunder announced her intention to bring a women's health clinic to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which would provide abortions in the event that the South Dakota abortion signed into law by South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds were to take effect.

On May 31, 2006, the Oglala Sioux tribal council unanimously voted to ban all abortions on the reservation, regardless of the circumstances (i.e. no provision in case of rape, incest, health of the mother). According to Indian Country Today, the ban also includes "the use of any drug that would prevent a pregnancy or abort a fetus the day after any sexual activity." The council also voted to suspend tribal president Cecilia Fire Thunder for 20 days pending an impeachment hearing.

A month after her suspension, on June 29, 2006, Fire Thunder was impeached from her duties as Tribal President. Six charges were made against Fire Thunder, the most topical being that she organized the aforementioned clinic outside of her authority as president and that she didn't consult with the council about the project and get their permission. Other charges were that Fire Thunder used the media, the U.S. Post Office and the Oglala Sioux Tribe to solicit funds for the clinic.

The reservation is also the setting for the Chris Eyre movie Skins and the book On the Rez by Ian Frazier.


* Allen, South Dakota (the most part, population 417)
* Batesland, South Dakota
* Kyle, South Dakota
* Manderson-White Horse Creek, South Dakota
* Oglala, South Dakota
* Pine Ridge, South Dakota
* Porcupine, South Dakota
* Wanblee, South Dakota
* Whiteclay, Nebraska
* Wounded Knee, South DakotaPermission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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