Pine Ridge

Amy Varland

Ida Clarke grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation in south-central South Dakota. She’s now a junior at Black Hills State University in Spearfish studying environmental physical science. Clarke says her background in chemistry, physics, and geology helped her land a summer internship at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead. Clarke says she plans to use what she’s learning to help her community get involved in

Photo by Jim Kent

The death certificate for a Lakota girl found dead on the Pine Ridge Reservation last November has been released by the South Dakota Department of Health. But the document leaves as many questions unresolved as it answers about a tragic incident.

Jayla Rodriguez was found dead at the bottom of a hill on the Pine Ridge Reservation on the evening of November 18, 2014. The 8-year old Lakota girl had been playing in the snow and sledding down that same hill.

Yellow Bird Steel Vows To Continue Prohibition

Jan 7, 2015

Pine Ridge will stay dry if the new Oglala Sioux Tribal President has his way.

President John Yellow Bird Steele says he is opposed to legalized alcohol on Pine Ridge.  He adds that he also opposed legalizing marijuana on Pine Ridge even if the federal government gives tacit approval.

Click play below to hear more.

Pine Ridge Elders Question Dog Roundups

Nov 26, 2014
Courtesy Lakota Animal Care Project

As residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation try to come to terms with the recent death of a young Lakota girl, community elders are gathering to discuss the repercussions from her passing. The decision by Oglala Sioux tribal officials to unilaterally round up and destroy dogs considered strays as a safeguard against possible attacks on children is considered an overreaction by many and counter to Lakota cultural traditions.

Lakota Girl Dies On Pine Ridge Reservation

Nov 21, 2014
Courtesy Red Cloud Indian School

News of the death of a young Lakota girl is hitting the Pine Ridge Reservation hard, especially at the Red Cloud Indian School. Students on the close-knit campus have been emotionally impacted by the realization that one of their own is no longer in class.

Oglala Sioux Police Chief Ron Duke says a pack of dogs attacked and killed Jayla Rodriquez late Tuesday afternoon while she was sledding near a housing complex.

The eight-year old was a student at the Red Cloud Indian School – where superintendent Ted Hamilton says students and faculty are shocked by her passing.

Brewer Vs. Yellow Bird Steele for OST President

Nov 2, 2014

In Tuesday’s midterm election, voters will decide the make-up of congress and South Dakota’s next Governor.  
On the Pine Ridge Reservation, a presidential race is also underway.   Tribal residents are deciding who will lead the Oglala Lakota Nation for the next two years.  

Yellow Bird Steele Leads Pine Ridge Primary

Oct 15, 2014

The Oglala Sioux Tribe Election Commission is verifying the results of Tuesday's primary election.   
Unofficial tribal presidential primary results have Harold Eagle Bull in third place with 512 votes, incumbent Tribal President Bryan Brewer with 944 votes, and former Tribal President John Yellow Bird Steele leading the field at 1465.

But the results could change as the numbers are finalized.  

On Pine Ridge the top two candidates in a presidential primary don’t automatically advance to the general election.

Lakota Funds Aims For Financial Literacy In Youth

Sep 24, 2014
Courtesy Lakota Funds

During the last recession there was a lot of talk about financial literacy.

Federal Case Filed Over Voting Rights On Pine Ridge

Sep 18, 2014

A voting rights group is filing a federal court case alleging unequal access to the polls in Jackson County, South Dakota.

The county covers the northeast corner of the Pine Ridge Reservation and is home to both the towns of Kadoka and Wanblee.   

In the county seat of Kadoka, the public can register and vote early in person.   But in Wanblee, the county’s largest town that sits on the Pine Ridge Reservation, early voting in person is not an option.

Shredding The Rez: Tribal Skate Parks Take Off

Sep 17, 2014

On just about any afternoon, in places like Pine Ridge, Kyle, and Eagle Butte you can find young people careening up and down ramps and flying through the air.

Tribal skateboard parks are popping up in communities across South Dakota's Indian Country.  The parks are being funded in part by pro skaters, big time rock musicians, and local leaders who have joined forces to build more activities for youth.

International Teachers Visit Pine Ridge

Jun 12, 2014

Israeli and Palestinian English teachers are touring the United States as Part of a State Department "International Visitor Leadership Program." Fatheya Masarwa has taught English for 13 years in Israel. Miri Yochanna has a Ph.D. in Linguistics from Tel Aviv and has been teaching other ESL teachers for 25 years. Asmaa Al Habbash teaches social studies and English at the American International School in Gaza. The three of them spoke to SDPB's Charles Michael Ray about their recent visit to the Pine Ridge Reservation as part of the IVLP.

TAP Program In Rapid City

Apr 29, 2014

In the spirit of using art as a vehicle for change and growth, Masayuki Nagase and his wife, Michele Ku, are working with the Rapid City Arts Council, Rapid City Area Schools, Destination Rapid City and area artists to launch a Teaching Arts Program (TAP).  TAP will start its pilot program at Wilson and South Canyon elementary schools in Rapid City and at the Lakota Waldorf School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  TAP is modeled after an artists-in-schools program through the Museum of Children's Art in Oakland, California.  TAP is being overseen by the Rapid City Arts Council's Arts E

Tanka Bar Founder Returns From Tribal Summit

Nov 25, 2013

Karlene Hunter, CEO and co-founder of Native American Natural Foods, was in Washington, D.C., last week for a tribal summit at the White House.  She says she was surprised to be invited to attend the event because it’s usually reserved for tribal leaders only.  Native American Natural Foods is best known for its Tanka Bar, a natural food based on traditional Lakota recipe of buffalo and fruit. A member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Hunter has more than 25 years of experience working on educational and economic development on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

Thunder Valley Helps Tackle Tribal Housing Shortage

Nov 20, 2013

Anyone who wants to start a new housing development has some hurdles to overcome.

On tribal lands in South Dakota those hurdles are bigger than just about anywhere else in the country.

But new housing efforts are finding unique ways to break the old molds.   As part of our continuing series on infrastructure the “State of our State”-- SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray profiles one of the new housing developments on Pine Ridge.

Here is an extended interview with Nick Tilsen of Thunder Valley.

Prohibition Ends On Pine Ridge

Aug 15, 2013

For the first time in decades the Pine Ridge Reservation is lifting prohibition. Alcohol has long been illegal on the reservation.  But, in a referendum vote tribal residents narrowly approved lifting the ban.

The official count is 1871 yes to 1679 no.

South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s Charles Michael Ray has more.

Alcohol Referendum Too Close To Call

Aug 14, 2013

Pine Ridge residents have to wait a little longer to hear the results of a referendum that would end the tribal prohibition of alcohol. Officials say the results are too close to call without more careful examination.    As of election night the results stand at 1,645 in favor of allowing alcohol sales on the reservation,  1,494 against, and 568 challenge ballots.  The official tally may come in on Wednesday but could take as long as Friday to confirm.
SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray has more.

Pine Ridge Polls Prohibition

Aug 12, 2013

Residents of Pine Ridge are going to the polls on Tuesday to decide the fate of the longstanding tribal prohibition of alcohol.  

The special election has divided the tribal council and tribal residents.  

SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray spoke with those on either side of the contentious issue for this story.

Maine Businessman Donates Rez Home

Aug 2, 2013
Photo courtesy OST Partnership for Housing

There’s a new home on the Pine Ridge Reservation, courtesy of a businessman from the state of Maine. The sixth-generation owner of Hancock Lumber saw how desperate the housing need is on Pine Ridge and decided to do something about it.

More than 4000 new homes are needed on the Pine Ridge Reservation, according to the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Partnership for Housing spokesperson “Pinky” Clifford.

Having someone donate the materials for one house doesn’t make much of a dent in that number, says Clifford – but it’s a start.

Tribal President Arrested During Whiteclay Protest

Jun 18, 2013

Oglala Sioux Tribal president Bryan Brewer was arrested Monday while taking part in a protest march against beer sales in the Nebraska town of Whiteclay.

Pine Ridge is dry, and some tribal officials like President Brewer say liquor store owners prey on tribal residents by selling millions of cans of beer each year.

The issue is divisive on Pine Ridge. While many tribal residents want to see Whiteclay closed, others feel protesting against liquor stores won’t solve the problem.

Buffalo To Roam Southern Badlands Once Again

Jun 12, 2013
Courtesy Badlands National Park

The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council passed a resolution that opens the door for the return of buffalo to the South Unit of the Badlands National Park.

The tribe is working out an agreement with the Park Service to make the Southern half of the Badlands the first ever tribally run National Park.   

Council representative Craig Dillon says restoring buffalo to the South Unit after more than a century is a very positive thing for the tribe.

Tribal Council Green Lights Referendum On Alcohol

Jun 12, 2013

The Oglala Sioux people will have a chance to decide in a 2014 referendum if alcohol should remain illegal on Pine Ridge.

The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council gave approval to a reservation wide vote on the longstanding prohibition of alcohol.

SDPB's Charles Michael Ray tuned into the tribal council meeting broadcast on K-I-L-I Radio.  He has this report.

Council Considers Referendum On Prohibition

Jun 11, 2013

The Oglala Sioux Tribal council is slated to debate a referendum on legalizing alcohol on Pine Ridge in Tuesday's meeting.

The Tribal Council is considering approving a reservation wide vote on prohibition.  

The move comes alongside efforts to curb alcohol sales in the nearby border town of Whiteclay.

SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray reports.

Whiteclay Heats Up As Tribe Reconsiders Prohibition

Jun 7, 2013

Activists and liquor store owners are clashing in the town of Whiteclay, Nebraska on the boarder of the Pine Ridge Reservation.   Beer delivery trucks are being stopped and vandalized as men wielding baseball bats are accused of threatening protesters.

Alcohol is banned on Pine Ridge.   But the town of Whiteclay sells the equivalent of up to 5-million cans of beer annually–mostly to impoverished tribal residents.   As the conflict escalates the tribal nation is grappling with the idea of lifting its prohibition of alcohol.   

Tribe Turns Down Wounded Knee Sale

May 1, 2013

The Oglala Sioux Tribal President says the tribe will not buy the land for sale on the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre at the current asking price of nearly four million dollars.
The land owner gave the tribe until May 1st to purchase the property–or will it would be sold to the highest bidder.    SDPB's Charles Michael Ray has this story.

Pine Ridge Pilgrimage Of Trust

Apr 19, 2013

A stage in the "pilgrimage of trust on the earth" will be held in Red Shirt, a tiny village at the edge of the Badlands on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation from May 24-27.  The outdoor gathering will include meditative prayer three times a day, Bible study, workshops, small group sharing and meals together, provided by the local Lakota people.  Rev.

Graffiti Art Brings Hope To Reservation

Apr 12, 2013
Courtesy Lakota Voice Project

At a time when ever-changing values and varying beliefs are shifting what defines “good,” “tasteful” and “fine” – few areas are more impacted than the world of art. Today we visit a young Native American man to discuss the evolution of a creative form that was once only considered juvenile vandalism.

It’s a busy afternoon in the village of Pine Ridge. Cars regularly come and go at the local supermarket as two young men stand before a nearby building holding cans of spray paint.

SD Tribal Officials Saddened By Chavez Death

Mar 6, 2013

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died this week after a battle with cancer.   The U.S. Government labeled Chavez as an enemy.    But many in South Dakota see him very differently.

In 2007 Chavez and the Venezuelan oil company CITGO provided over 600-thousand dollars in heating assistance to Pine Ridge and several other reservations. That assistance continued on an annual basis each year.

SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray found that some tribal residents remember Chavez and are saddened by his passing.