South Dakota: Rosebud Reservation


About the Sicangu Sioux. Rosebud Reservation is home to the Sicangu Sioux, one of the seven tribes of the Lakota Nation. The Lakota were traditionally the ultimate icons of the Plains Indian culture, with organized bands, reliance on the buffalo for food, clothing and more, and warring and raiding with other tribes. 

Lakota, Dakota and Nakota speakers make up the Siouan language family that inhabited over 100 million acres of what is now Minnesota, parts of Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas in the 16th and early 17th century. By the mid-17th century, Siouans began moving farther west due to conflicts with the Cree and Anishnabe and to the lure of the vast buffalo herds on the Great Plains. The Lakota acquired horses around 1740 and shortly thereafter crossed the Missouri River. They arrived in the Black Hills area around 1775, and at about the same time they divided into seven bands, one of which was the Sicangu. 

History of the Reservation: Under terms of the Ft. Laramie Treaty of 1868, the Lakota were placed on one large reservation that encompassed parts of North and South Dakota and four other states. After defeating the Indian tribes in the Plains Wars of the 1870s, the United States confiscated 7.7 million acres of the Sioux’s sacred Black Hills and split the people into several smaller reservations. The Sicangu Sioux were assigned to live on the Rosebud Reservation. 

Life on the Reservation: The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is more properly known as Sicangu Lakota Oyate or Burnt Thigh People and includes more than 33,000 enrolled tribal members. About 11,000 people live on the reservation, which includes 20 communities and spans around 900,000 acres – half of which is owned by the tribe. The reservation has large areas of ponderosa pine forest scattered in its grasslands, and deep valleys are defined by steep hills, ravines and lakes. 

The Rosebud Reservation is economically depressed with an average annual household income of $23,000 – the lowest amount for all nine South Dakota reservations. 1 out of every 2 families live in poverty, and the reservation has a joblessness rate of 9%.  

For many Rosebud Sicangu, getting access to even the most basic food and medical care is a daily challenge. Families often live far from community centers and in remote areas with little access to transportation. Overcrowding is common as most families will not turn away extended family members in need of a place to stay. Many roads are in poor repair and can only be navigated by four-wheel drive vehicles. 

Rosebud on the map: Mallette, Todd, Tripp and Lyman counties, South Dakota.  


Population, Land Size, Jobs, Income, Poverty 

Communities, Geography 


Seven Bands