Facts about the Rez

  • The 11,000-square miles (over 2 million acres) of land that makes up the Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation is the second-largest Native American Reservation within the United States. It is roughly the size of the State of Connecticut.
  • According to the 1998 Bureau of Indian Affairs Census, the Pine Ridge Reservation is home to approximately 40,000 persons, 35% of which are under the age of 16. Approximately half the residents of the Reservation are registered tribal members of the Oglala Lakota Nation.
  • The nearest town of size (which provides some jobs for those few persons able to travel the distance) is Rapid City, South Dakota with approximately 57,000 residents. It is located approximately 120 miles from the Reservation. That is the town with the closest airport also. The nearest large city to Pine Ridge is Denver, Colorado located about 350 miles away.
  • There is no industry, technology, or commercial infrastructure on the Reservation to provide employment.
  • Weather is extreme on the Reservation. Severe winds are always a factor. Traditionally, summer temperatures reach well over 100*F and winters bring bitter cold with temperatures that can reach -20*F below zero or worse. Flooding, tornados, or wildfires are always a risk.
  • Unemployment rate of 80-90%
  • Poorest county in the USA. Average family income is approx. $3,700 per year.
  • At least 60% of the homes are severely substandard, without water, electricity, adequate insulation, and sewage systems.
  • High rates of alcoholism, heart disease, and cancer. Twice the rate of heart disease
  • Suicide rate more than twice the national rate
  • Extremely high rate of diabetes. Almost half of the population over 40 on the Pine Ridge Reservation have diabetes.
  • Life expectancy on Pine Ridge is the lowest in the United States and the 2nd lowest in the Western Hemisphere. Only Haiti has a lower rate.
  • If the Oglala Sioux Tribe were to equally disperse revenues from the Prairie Wind Casino to all enrolled tribal members, each resident would receive $.15 per month. 
  • School drop-out rate is over 70%.
  • More than 4.5 million cans of beers are sold annually in White Clay, Nebraska, just over the border from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. This amounts to more than 12,500 cans of beer a day. The reservation itself is dry by law.
  • It is reported that at least 60% of the homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation are infested with Black Mold, Stachybotrys. This infestation causes an often-fatal condition with infants, children, elderly, those with damaged immune systems, and those with lung and pulmonary conditions at the highest risk. Exposure to this mold can cause hemorrhaging of the lungs and brain as well as cancer
  • About 1/3 of the population still speak the Lakota language
  • Almost all maintain their traditional spiritual and cultural beliefs
  • Oglala Lakota people wish to preserve their culture and find ways to be self-sufficient.
  • They are leaders in knowledge of environmental preservation.
  • They are sharing society - when one eats, they all eat - or they all do without
  • Their exquisite beadwork, quillwork, quilting, sewing, painting is art at its best.