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American Indian Life

American Indian Life varies from reservation to reservation and from tribe to tribe. Here is a look into two reservations we have worked with since Running Strong for American Indian Youth’s infancy, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation.

LIFE ON PINE RIDGE RESERVATION:

TRIBE: Oglala Lakota

LOCATION: South-West South Dakota

SIZE: 2.7 million acres (similar in size to Connecticut)

POPULATION: approx. 40,000

HISTORY: The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is part of the Great Sioux Reservation that was established under the Treaty of 1868 and is comprised of Shannon and Jackson Counties.

Originally the Reservation encompassed approximately 60 million acres of parts of South Dakota, Nebraska, and Wyoming. After opening the Black Hills area to homesteaders and prospectors, in 1889 the remaining area of Great Sioux Reservation was divided into seven separate reservations: Cheyenne River Agency, Crow Creek Agency, Lower Brule, Rosebud Agency, Sisseton Agency, Yankton Agency and Pine Ridge Agency.

Challenges facing this reservation include:

  • Life expectancy on the Pine Ridge Reservation is the lowest anywhere in the western hemisphere, except for Haiti. A recent study found the life expectancy for men is 48 years, for women it is 52 years on the Reservation.
  • The Pine Ridge Reservation has the highest infant mortality rate in the United States.
  • The unemployment rate in Shannon County is 70% and the average family income is $3,800
  • Many families have no electricity, telephone service, running water, or sewers and must use wood burning stoves to heat their homes.

Running Strong for American Indian Youth® is proud to have a strong presence on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The Oglala Lakota face many challenges, but are the descendants of such famous warrior chiefs as Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, and Crazy Horse. They have a rich culture and protect many of their traditions.

Through grassroots programs such as organic gardening, our water-well project, housing programs, food distribution and utilities assistance, Running Strong seeks to build opportunities for youth on the Reservation so they can create a bright future for themselves.

 

LIFE ON THE CHEYENNE RIVER SIOUX INDIAN RESERVATION:

TRIBE: Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, bands of Mnicoujou, Siha Sapa, Oohenumpa, and Itazipco

LOCATION: North Central South Dakota

SIZE: 2.8 million acres (similar in size to Connecticut)

POPULATION: 14,861

HISTORY: The Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation is part of the Great Sioux Reservation that was established under the Treaty of 1868 and is comprised of Ziebach and Dewey counties.

Originally the Reservation encompassed approximately 60 million acres of parts of South Dakota, Nebraska, and Wyoming. After opening the Black Hills area to homesteaders and prospectors, in 1889 the remaining area of Great Sioux Reservation was divided into seven separate reservations: Cheyenne River Agency, Crow Creek Agency, Lower Brule, Rosebud Agency, Sisseton Agency, Yankton Agency and Pine Ridge Agency.

Challenges facing the Cheyenne River Reservation include:

  • Both Ziebach and Dewey Counties are consistently ranked in the bottom 1% economically of the 3,142 counties in the United States
  • Ziebach County ranked as the 4th poorest in the nation according to the 2000 Census
  • According to the US Census, over 45.1 % of the total population of the Cheyenne River Reservation is under 18
  • 61.2% of youth under the age of 18 in Ziebach and 38.2% in Dewey are living below the poverty line.

Running Strong for American Indian Youth® is proud to have a strong presence on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. This Reservation faces many challenges, but boasts a rich history full of traditions and unique culture.

To learn more about where Running Strong for American Indian Youth® works, visit our What We Do page.