South Dakota: Yankton Reservation


About the Yankton, Yanktonai and Assiniboine 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. The Yankton and Yanktonai were one tribe, and the Assiniboine separated from them in the mid-16th century. The 18th century saw the Yankton range north and west into Minnesota and South Dakota. The Yanktonai followed the Teton tribes west and by the early 19th century hunted buffalo between the Red and Missouri Rivers. 

Unlike the more settled Yankton and Yanktonai tribes, the Assiniboine were fully nomadic and by the 18th century ranged across the northern Plains. The smallpox epidemic of the late 1700s and early 1800s took a heavy toll on the Assiniboine. In their limited strength, the Assiniboine were forced to sign the Fort Laramie Treaty in 1851, which restricted their lands to western Montana. 

History of the Reservation: The Yanktons ceded 2.2 million acres to Iowa between 1830 and 1837. The tribe ceded another 11 million acres in 1858, and by 1860, it had turned over almost all its remaining land to the U.S. government. With this, most of their people moved to the Yankton Reservation in South Dakota. Upon establishment, the reservation had 435,000 acres, but homesteading by white settlers starting in 1887 withdrew much of this land from tribal control. The reservation boundaries are not represented on South Dakota state maps and the tribe is working to change this and protect their remaining lands. 

Life on the Reservation: Bordered on the south and west by the Missouri River, the Yankton Reservation covers 430,000 acres of rolling land today, mostly used for farming and pasture. The Missouri River and the land surrounding it are largely untapped resources for the population, although some irrigation of tribal farmland has taken place. 

The tribe did not accept the terms of the Indian Reorganization Act and thus receives less federal funding than it would have otherwise. The lack of government dollars has made improving education and attracting businesses to the reservation difficult. The major employees include a casino, I.H.S. clinic, the Marty Indian School and tribal and federal government jobs.  

The joblessness rate is 9%, and 14% of families live in poverty. The average annual income for the 6,800 people on the reservation is $47,000. The number of enrolled members exceeds 11,500. 

Yankton on the map: Charles Mix County, South Dakota. 


Population,Jobs, Income, Poverty 

Land Size, Geography