The Nakota, also known as the Yanktonai or Yankton Sioux, split from the Dakota and moved to the prairies in the region that is now southeast South Dakota. They were divided into three bands: Yankton who are now on the Yankton Reservation in South Dakota; the Upper Yanktonai who are split between the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota and the Devil’s Lake Reservation in North Dakota; and the Lower Yanktonai who are split between the Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota and the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana.
In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Sioux Indians were entitled to an award of $17.5 million, plus 5% interest per year since 1877, totaling about $106 million in compensation for the unjust taking of the Black Hills and in direct contravention of the Treaty of Fort Laramie. The Sioux have refused to take the money and sits in a trust fund in Washington, collecting interest.
Today, there is division among the Sioux as to whether to claim the money, therefore relinquishing their rights to the Black Hills forever, or to press for the return of the Black Hills.
The Great Sioux Nation covers 2,782 square miles in South Dakota and neighboring states. Constituting one of the largest Native American groups, the Sioux primarily live on reservations in Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana. The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota is the second largest in the United States. Many are engaged in farming and ranching, including the raising of bison. The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux have a large casino on their reservation in Minnesota, but Oglala efforts to establish one at impoverished Pine Ridge have met with only partial success. Indian Country Today, a successful Nativ American newspaper, was started at Pine Ridge in 1981; it is now based in Rapid City, South Dakota In 1990 there were more than 100,000 Sioux in the United States and more than 10,000 in Canada.
On many reservations, there is violence, drunkenness, apathy and despair. School drop-outs rates range from 45 to 62%. Suicide among the indigenous people is twice the US national average and unemployment runs around 80%.
The Lakota have formed The Alliance of Tribal Tourism Advocates, whose goal is to enhance prospects of tourism development in accordance with the nation organizations, beliefs and priorities. In 1999, Shannon County, South Dakota, home of the Oglala Lakota on Pine Ridge Reservation, was identified as the poorest place in the country.
All images available for photographic prints & editorial downloads HERE!