Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

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The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is the eighth largest Indian reservation in the United States, encompassing nearly 35,000 square miles and a population of approximately 30,000 residents. Pine Ridge Reservation was originally part of the Great Sioux Reservation established by the Forth Laramie Treaty of 1868 following Red Cloud’s War and is located in present-day South Dakota. It has been the site of some of the most tragic moments in the history of relations between Plains Indians and the US Federal Government, including the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre, and the 1973 Wounded Knee Incident. A legacy of governmental neglect, discrimination, and the degradation of Lakota culture mean that residents of Pine Ridge face a range of serious health and socioeconomic issues. Unemployment among those who live on the reservation is between 80-85%, and 49% of the population lives below the poverty level. A dearth of Native-owned businesses in Pine Ridge means that while border town stores see economic benefits from residents, money spent by tribal members doesn’t find its way back to the reservation. Pine Ridge counts disproportionately high rates of depression, suicide, and drug and alcohol abuse among its population, as well as diabetes and malnutrition.

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