South Dakota: Flandreau Reservation


About the Flandreau Santee Sioux: The Siouan language family, including Lakota-Dakota-Nakota speakers, inhabited over 100 million acres in the upper Mississippi Region in the 16th and early 17th centuries. Conflicts with the Cree and Anishnabe Indians, as well as the lure of the Great Plains buffalo herds, impelled the Sioux to move further west in the mid-17th century. The Dakotas lingered longer, remaining on the prairies of western Minnesota and eastern South Dakota. The Santee established villages around the Mississippi and lower Minnesota Rivers and began hunting buffalo communally. 

History of the Reservation: The terms of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 allowed the Santee Sioux to homestead if they renounced their tribal membership. Seventy-five families chose this option and homesteaded near Flandreau, South Dakota between 1868 and 1873. The government established a boarding school in Flandreau in 1870. In 1929, the community voted to establish itself as the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe and 6 years later asked Congress to establish it as a reservation under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1935. The reservation adopted a tribal charter in 1936. Unlike most Sioux reservations, which hold popular elections, the Flandreau Reservation is governed by an executive committee. 

Life on the Reservation: With 736 enrolled tribal members and a population of 444 residents, the Flandreau Reservation operates a successful casino and entertainment complex, which is the main source of jobs for residents. Despite only 7% of the workforce being jobless, 1 in 3 families live below the federal poverty level. The average household income is $41,000. 

Through the Indian Self-Determination Act of 1976, the tribe manages several Indian Health Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs programs, including the historic boarding school in Flandreau. The tribe generates additional income by farming and leasing land throughout their 2,000 acres. 

Flandreau on the map: Moody County, South Dakota.  


Jobs, Poverty, Population, Land Size, Income