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The Reservations

The Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River Reservations in South Dakota are part of a larger territory established for the Lakota in 1868 by the United States government and later parceled out to non-Native homesteaders and broken up into smaller tribal reservations. Today, Pine Ridge Reservation is home to about 40,000 Native Americans and Cheyenne Reservation about 20,000. According to the US Census Bureau, the reservations lie within the poorest counties in the United States.

 

 
Can you imagine that in the United States of America:
  • There is a group of people who have the shortest life expectancy of any group in the Western Hemisphere, outside of Haiti?
  • Families, children and elders go without food on a regular basis?
  • Families are often without heat during sub-zero temperatures?
  • People are without employment opportunities or adequate medical facilities?

 

That is the plight of Lakota People living on reservations in South Dakota.

  • Life Expectancy is 48 years for men and 52 years for women.
  • Unemployment is estimated to be 87%
  • 90% live below the Federal poverty level.
  • The teenage suicide rate is 3 1/2 times higher than the national average.
  • Infant mortality is five times higher than the national average
  • Diabetes, heart disease, cancer and malnutrition are epidemic.

 

Maintaining Culture and Traditions

Despite hardship and adversity, the Lakota maintain their cultural knowledge and traditions and preserve for their children and for the world, ancient wisdom that contributes to quality of life.

  • About 1/3 of the population still speak the Lakota language
  • Almost all maintain their traditional spiritual and cultural beliefs
  • They are leaders in knowledge of environmental preservation.
  • They are a 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.
  • They wish to preserve their culture and find ways to be self-sufficient.

Learn More About The Lakota

There is much more to the Lakota than just statistics. Their culture has survived colonization and genocide. Despite adversity, many are committed to the renewal of their traditional way of life.

The following are websites and books that will help you learn more about the Lakota culture and history. Please note that the views expressed may not reflect those of One Spirit. It is also important to understand that the information below may not reflect the experience of every Lakota individual. Life for the Lakota people is impacted by a complex tribal history that requires more study than any one resource can provide.

There are many more resources out there, but we hope that you will find the following to be a good place to start. 

Websites
www.lakotabooks.com
www.elexion.com/lakota/lakota2
http://www.republicoflakotah.com 
Lakota Country Times - A Few Good Books About Indians

Books

Lakota Belief and Ritual by James R. Walker

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse by Peter Matthiessen

The Lakota Way: Stories and Lessons for Living by Joseph M. Marshall III

Wakinyan: Lakota Religion in the Twentieth Century by Stephen E. Feraca

The Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History by Joseph M. Marshall III

Fools Crow: Wisdom and Power by Thomas E. Mails

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown

Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions by John (Fire) Lame Deer

The Sacred Pipe: Black Elk's Account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux by Nicholas Black Elk

On the Rez by Ian Frazier