North Dakota: Standing Rock


About the Yanktonai, Hunkpapa, and Blackfoot 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. Out of conflicts with the Ojibwe and Cree and the lure of the Great Plains buffalo herds, the Sioux moved further west in the mid-17th century. The Lakota acquired horses around 1740. Shortly thereafter, the tribe crossed the Missouri River, arriving in the Black Hills in 1775. About this time, the Lakota dispersed into seven bands: Oglala, Sicangu or Brule, Hunkpapa, Mniconjou, Sihasapa or Blackfeet, Itazipacola and Oohenupa. Standing Rock bands include the Hunkpapa and Blackfeet. As is typical of Plains Indian tribes, the Lakota lived in organized bands and relied on buffalo for food and clothing. 

History of the Reservation: The terms of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 placed all the Lakota on one large reservation that encompassed parts of North Dakota, South Dakota and four other states. Later, the U.S. government fragmented the Lakota reserve into several smaller ones – not only reducing the acreage but splintering the people. In 1889, the U.S. reclaimed 7.7 million acres of the Sioux’s sacred Black Hills and moved the Teton Sioux to the Standing Rock Reservation. Although 2.7 million acres originally, subsequent land grabs by the U.S. government reduced the Standing Rock Reservation to just 1 million acres (about the area of Rhode Island). 

Life on the Reservation: Today straddling South and North Dakota, the Standing Rock Reservation spans 842,000 acres. Nearly 8,000 people live on the reservation, and the tribe has more than 16,000 enrolled members.  

Economic drivers include cattle ranching and farming, and the tribe has various businesses including a casino. Despite these efforts to establish revenue streams on the reservation, 41% of residents still face poverty. Per capita income is about $39,000, and 21% face joblessness.   

As a matter of principle, the Standing Rock tribes never complied with the Indian Reorganization Act of 1935, shying away from federal government control, and thus does not receive their full share of government funding. This lack of government dollars, meager per capita income and high unemployment intensify housing and health problems on the reservation. Many residents live in remote areas, far away from medical care and healthy food. Housing, both in remote areas and in towns, is in short supply, forcing many families to live in overcrowded conditions. 


7 bands: 


Population, Land Size, Jobs, Income, Poverty