North Dakota: Lake Traverse Reservation


The Lake Traverse Reservation is inhabited by the Sisseton-Wahpeton Band of Mississippi (Eastern Sioux): Traditionally, the Sisseton hunted, fished and farmed along the Minnesota-Wisconsin border. The large influx of White settlers forced them into smaller areas until they eventually fled to Canada in the Minnesota Sioux War of 1862. Upon their return, the tribe was forced to leave the Minnesota-Wisconsin area and settle on Lake Traverse and Devil’s Lake (now renamed Spirit Lake).  History of the Reservation: Returning from Canada in 1863, the Sisseton signed a treaty at Enemy Swim Lake. The treaty authorized the reservation established in 1867. Originally, the reservation encompassed 1 million acres (about the area of Rhode Island). Subsequently, 700,000 acres were purchased for non-Indian settlement and allotments of the remaining 300,000 acres were awarded to the 2,700 tribal members.  Life on the Reservation: Today, the Lake Traverse Reservation occupies about 108,000 acres and includes land in both northeastern South Dakota and southeastern North Dakota. More than 11,000 people reside on the reservation, and the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate has nearly 14,000 enrolled members.  The reservation’s economy relies on farming, ranching, casinos and small industry. Individuals raise cattle, sheep, horses and hogs, while the tribe leases land to others for crop production and grazing. Major employers include a casino, the tribal government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. A small plastic bag factory also provides some jobs.   The average household income is $49,000 per year. About 21% of families live in poverty, and the joblessness rate is 7%.  Lake Traverse on the map: Roberts, Day, Dodington, Marshall, and Grant counties in northeastern South Dakota; Sargent and Richland counties in southeastern North Dakota.  Sources:  Demographics:  Population, Land Size, Jobs, Income, Poverty  Enrollment, Geography