Pine Ridge Reservation

Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Health Board, Jackie Hendry, SDSU

Palliative care can relieve symptoms of serious illnesses like cancer. But despite high cancer rates on reservations, this specialized care is difficult to access.

A research partnership among South Dakota State University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Avera Health and others is working to develop palliative care options on three of South Dakota’s reservations. The research includes work with community members to ensure culturally-appropriate care.

Climate Activists Travel To Pine Ridge

Oct 7, 2019

In The Moment ... October 7, 2019 Show 674 Hour 2

Sixteen-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg traveled to the Pine Ridge Reservation over the weekend. She joined another young activist, Tokata Iron Eyes, who was involved in the 2016 protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline, to talk about climate change.

SDPB's Chynna Lockett was there. She joins In The Moment to discuss the weekend's event and how it's continuing today.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that same-sex marriage is legal on the Navajo Nation. SDPB has updated this story to reflect that correction.   


Same Sex Marriage Legalized For Oglala Sioux Tribe

Jul 17, 2019

Same sex marriage was legalized in the United States in 2015, but that federal decision didn’t apply to Native American Reservations. The Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe has officially recognized same-sex marriage on the Pine Ridge Reservation. 


Thunder Valley Opens Community Center

Jun 21, 2019


The Pine Ridge Reservation is isolated. It can take hours to get from one end to the other. That makes it difficult to bring people together. But there’s now a new, centralized meeting place equipped with high end technology.

The new Thunder Valley Community Center is an open room with concrete floors and tall walls. It’s bright from natural light that pours in through wide windows.


Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation leases the space for meetings, conferences and even family family gatherings.

In The Moment ... May 20, 2019 Show 579 Hour 2

The Oglala Sioux Tribe recently sent its largest class ever to the U.S. Indian Police Academy located at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in New Mexico. Nine new officers are ready for service. The tribe now has more than 50 officers on the roster.

Bob Ecoffey is the Oglala Sioux Tribal Police Chief. He has served as a U.S. Marshall and has served the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, DC. He discusses his growing department and how officers are trained to protect and serve.

Victoria Wicks

Drive south of Scenic on BIA Highway 27 and you'll find Thunder Valley. You won't have to look hard. After you've driven about half an hour through Pine Ridge's grasslands and hills, Thunder Valley stands out. You'll first notice a cluster of very tall houses, some finished, some not. Then you'll see a large apartment complex and community center, both still under construction, and a small red barn and administration building.

This is a model community, designed to show the possibilities when a group of dedicated people think beyond the conventional to make a good life.

In The Moment ... March 27, 2018 Show 305 Hour 1

Sean Sherman is originally from Pine Ridge. He's now known as the Sioux Chef, and he's credited with revitalizing and re-imagining Native American cuisine.

He's just been named as a  20-18 Bush Fellow and his 20-17 cookbook "The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen" is one of three nominees for a 2018 James Beard Foundation Book Award in the American category.

Pine Ridge Immersions Program Creates Lakota Speakers

Oct 18, 2017
Chynna Lockett

Lakota is an original Native American language that elders on some South Dakota reservations speak today. There are efforts in a number of places around the country to preserve the language.

It’s a vocabulary lesson for a group of young students. 

They’re part of the Lakota Immersion Childcare program on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Here, all the learning is done in Lakota.

Lee Strubinger / SDPB

South Dakota’s US House Representative says an Indian Health Service reform bill is moving quickly through Congress.

Congresswoman Kristi Noem has sponsored similar legislation in the past. The bill increases care standards, gives IHS more recruitment tools and requires more accountability from providers.

Noem gave an update on the bill at a town hall meeting in Rapid City on Wednesday.

The legislation is in response to years of reports about poorly delivered care and mismanagement.

Charles Michael Ray / SDPB

Rural states like South Dakota rely heavily on federal funding.  Tribes also require federal dollars to maintain programs, roads, schools and even small business development.

With so many budgets and businesses hinging on the input of federal dollars.   There’s cautious optimism, and some uncertainty, among tribal and federal officials about the incoming Trump administration…

A group of representatives from the United States Department of Agriculture are touring the Pine Ridge Reservation as part of a Promise Zone initiative granted a few years ago.

One Year Of Pine Ridge Disaster Recovery

Aug 8, 2016

The Pine Ridge reservation now has over 200 new or repaired homes following a disaster that struck in the spring of 2015. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and tribal officials are marking one year of recovery following a unique Presidential Disaster Declaration.

President Obama’s Individual Assistance declaration to Pine Ridge was the first ever made directly to a tribal nation. FEMA then initiated the first permanent housing construction program in the continental United States. FEMA also provided additional direct financial aid to the community.

Pine Ridge Police Department

Officials with the US Attorney’s office say three men found dead on Pine Ridge in May were not victims of foul play.   Officials say an extensive investigation showed Juan Lamont, Tevin Tyon  and Tyrell Wilson died from injuries sustained in a car accident.

Officials say rumors on the disappearance and death of three men have circled in the community.

Civil Air Patrol Joins Pine Ridge Search

May 18, 2016
Pine Ridge Police Department

Three men are still missing on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Juan Lamont, Tevin Tyon and Tyrell Wilson are all in their early twenties. They were last seen by family on May 7th.

The Civil Air Patrol is now joining the search. CAP personnel are currently searching Pine Ridge and the surrounding area.

Major Bruce Kipp is the Wing’s Public Information Officer. He says the C-A-P doesn’t get called in for these kinds of situations very often.

Crazy Horse School is receiving a federal grant worth $107,631 to help students cope with suicide on the Pine Ridge Reservation. This is the third grant from the US Department of Education to Pine Ridge schools after tribal leaders declared a state of emergency following a string of suicides.

Project SERV grants target schools where kids experience significant violent or traumatic events. The latest funding adds two counselors at Crazy Horse School in Wanblee to help restore the learning environment.

Secretary John King leads the US Department of Education.

Sanders Makes Three Stops In South Dakota

May 12, 2016
Chynna Lockett

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is speaking at events across South Dakota ahead of the June 7th primary.

He started with a community discussion in Pine Ridge where he spoke about issues of concern on the reservation and called on audience members to share their experiences.
Hundreds gathered in the gym of Pine Ridge School as Sanders took the stage.

Jodi Archambault Gillette, former special assistant to President Barrack Obama for Native American Affairs, will receive an Honorary Doctorate from Black Hills State University on Saturday, May 7 at 10 a.m. during commencement ceremonies.

Gillette will also present a special lecture Friday, May 6 at 1 p.m. at BHSU. She joins Dakota Midday for a conversation about her lifelong advocacy for families and children, how the traditions of her youth continue to impact her work, and the importance of increasing visibility of Native American issues at the highest level of government.

Dakota Digest for April 15, 2016

Apr 15, 2016

On this week's episode of Dakota Digest, USD Women's Basketball Coach Amy Williams is the new coach at the University of Nebraska. Also, a Grand Jury has indicted three people related to GEAR UP. All of this and more on this week's Dakota Digest.

Dakota Digest for January 22, 2016

Jan 22, 2016

On this week's episode of Dakota Digest, the state legislative session continues with Week 2. SDPB's Kealey Bultena continues to report on the topic of education, and what is being discussed regarding the pay of teachers. Also, SDPB's Jim Kent attends an Eagle Feather Ceremony on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Mindfulness techniques combined with Native traditions are being introduced to students at Pine Ridge School. SDPB's Jim Kent visits Pine Ridge to see how mindfulness is being used to prevent youth suicide. Then Dr. Kathleen Farah, with the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, sits down with Lori Walsh to discuss how ancient techniques can address the effects of ongoing trauma.

Courtesy The Center for Mind-Body Medicine

As parents, teachers, school administrators and tribal officials continue to seek solutions to the youth suicide epidemic that’s plagued the Pine Ridge Reservation for years, health organizations from off the reservation are also offering their help.

SDPB’s Jim Kent visited with representatives of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine and workers at the Pine Ridge Boarding School to discuss how the suicide issue has impacted students and “supervisors” and what’s being done to address the problem.

Dakota Midday: SD Video Wins Award

Nov 19, 2015

The Chamber Music Festival of the Black Hills recently recorded over 200 boys and girls from the Pine Ridge Reservation and the Black Hills.  They're featured in a "virtual choir" video that earned a second place honor at one of the largest Native American film festivals in Europe.  Guest host Jackelyn Severin was joined by Michael Hill, Executive Director of the Chamber Music Festival of the Black Hills.

Photo by Victoria Wicks

The documentary Rising Voices features workers and volunteers with the Lakota Language Consortium. One of them is Albino "Junior" Garcia, who lives at Rockyford, on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Garcia travels to schools where Lakota is taught and lends his support and energy to the effort. On Sunday, Nov. 14, before the documentary was screened at the Journey Museum in Rapid City, SDPB's Victoria Wicks sat in on Garcia's language class, when he gave a Black Hills group a taste of his teaching skills.

Unemployment Aid To Tribal Members

Aug 18, 2015

The South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation is offering assistance to tribal members. The funds are being distributed to members who are now unemployed due to the severe weather damage in May.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance or DUA is now available for the Oglala Sioux Tribe in Pine Ridge. Funds are for anyone who can no longer work or their workplace was severely damaged due to the May storms. Pauline Heier is the South Dakota Director of Unemployment Insurance.

The Oglala Lakota College is receiving a grant of $25,000 from a tribe in Minnesota. The grant money will fund the Lakota immersion school for kindergarten through fifth grade students on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Leaders want to prevent the loss of the Lakota language.

The Shakopee Native American tribe in Minnesota is helping fund the Lakota language program. The grant will allow around 30 children to learn their native language at the childcare facility.

Dakota Midday: BEAR Project Founder 'Tiny' DeCory

May 26, 2015
Chynna Lockett SDPB

The Pine Ridge Reservation is struggling with a rash of youth suicides. There have been at least 10 since December. And according to the federal Indian Health Service, there have been 103 attempts by people ages 12 to 24 this past December through March. In February, Oglala Sioux Tribe president John Yellow Bird Steele declared an emergency on the reservation in response to the suicides.

Dakota Midday: Tim Giago's Boarding School Memories

Apr 29, 2015
Tim Giago

Beginning in the late nineteenth century, many American Indian children were sent away from their homes and families to attend government or church-operated boarding schools. Students were forced to cut their hair, give up traditional clothing and forbidden to speak their own language. The idea was to assimilate them completely into American culture. As the founder of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School Richard Henry Pratt said in 1892, “… all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man."

Twila True

Twila True is co-founder, president and CEO of True Investments, a real estate private equity business. She’s also a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Over the past couple years, she’s traveled between her home in Irvine, California and the Pine Ridge Reservation to identify the needs of the Oglala Sioux people and to figure out what she could do to help. She founded the True Sioux Hope Foundation to create new opportunities for the people of Pine Ridge. She joined Dakota Midday and discussed the foundation and its goals.

Along with statewide races yesterday, Oglala Sioux Tribal members elected a new president. John Yellow Bird Steele defeated incumbent Bryan Brewer. And Shannon County residents voted to change the name of the southwest South Dakota county to Oglala Lakota County. The name change now must be approved by the state legislature. Rapid City attorney Charlie Abourezk, who helped organize the get out the vote effort in tribal communities, and SDPB's Charles Michael Ray joined Dakota Midday election results on the Pine Ridge Reservation yesterday.

Tuesday was the 50th anniversary of what is considered one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history when the virtually unknown Billy Mills won the 10,000 meter run in the 1964 Tokyo Games. In the final lap, the 26-year-old Marine from the Pine Ridge Reservation passed 10K world record holder Ron Clarke of Australia and Mohammed Gammoudi of Tunisia with a sudden burst of speed as NBC analyst Dick Banks screamed "Look at Mills! Look at Mills!"