On February 9th, 1992, while driving to the South Dakota Miss Basketball banquet to accept an award, SuAnne Big Crow perished in a car accident. Big Crow, who hailed from the Pine Ridge Reservation, was known as a remarkable basketball player as well as her advocacy for Lakota history and culture.
Big Crow’s advocacy and sportsmanship were not forgotten, either. Seven years following Big Crow’s untimely death, President Bill Clinton visited the Pine Ridge Reservation. Following his visit, President Clinton called both Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo to discuss the creation of a youth center in Pine Ridge.
In August 2000, the youth center became a reality with the dedication of the SuAnne Big Crow Youth Wellness and Opportunity Center, a Boys and Girls Club of America. The building aimed to meet the dreams of SuAnne Big Crow by providing area youth with a drug- and alcohol-free environment.
While the facility is no longer a member of the Boys and Girls Club, it remains committed to serving youth in Pine Ridge. In 2016, the facility offered health-related services to adults on a fee basis, including water aerobics courses.
In addition to the facility bearing her name, Big Crow was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame on March 25, 2017.
To read more about the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe recently selected Scott James to fill the position of attorney general, reports KOTA News. James was previously a prosecutor for Kiowa County in Kansas, where he was elected to serve two terms. This will be James’ first time working as an attorney in Indian Country.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Attorney General position has been vacant since March 2017. The position was previously held be Tatewin Means.
To read more about the Oglala Sioux Tribe, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.
As part of its effort to highlight small and mid-sized museums across the United States, the National Endowment for the Humanities recently honored the Woksape Tipi Archives at Oglala Lakota College in Kyle, South Dakota. As reported by KOTA News, the archives host a variety of cultural and historical materials pertinent to the Northern Plains region.
The Woksape Tipi collection is accessible to community members as well as college students. Individuals interested in the collection can view a variety of materials including administrative records of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, artifacts, manuscripts, microforms and more.
To learn more about the Woksape Tipi Archives, visit the Oglala Lakota College Library’s website. For more information on the Pine Ridge Reservation, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.
Oglala Sioux Tribal police officers have noticed a significant rise in bootlegging in the Pine Ridge Reservation, reports KOTA News. The rise in bootlegging follows the decision from the Nebraska Supreme Court which resulted in end of beer sales Whiteclay, which is located just outside of the reservation.
Police officers have reported finding water bottles filled instead with clear alcohol such as vodka and even hairspray and rubbing alcohol. Those purchasing the bootlegged alcohol pay as much as $10 per bottle.
The Pine Ridge Police Department has just 32 police officers to patrol the reservation, which is similarly sized to the state of Connecticut, making enforcement of the ban on alcohol difficult at best.
Learn more about the Pine Ridge Reservation on the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.
The Oglala Lakota County School District is envisioning the creation of a vocational-technical high school in the Pine Ridge Reservation, according to KOTA News. The school would be the first public high school within the reservation. The cost of building such a school is estimated at $20 million.
Currently, the reservation hosts four high school which all have a traditional focus on college preparation. With just 23 percent of eighth graders completing high school, Oglala Lakota County School Board Members are looking for a way to prepare students for careers that require technical training. Training in information technology, agriculture and hospitality would be included in the curriculum.
To learn more about education and training in the Pine Ridge Reservation, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe recently selected Grace Her Many Horses to serve as police chief, reports KOTA News. Her Many Horses is currently working in the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota as police chief for the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation (Three Affiliated Tribes).
The Oglala Sioux Tribe also hired Charles Abourezk to serve as the tribe’s chief judge. With the hiring of Abourezk, all five judgeships in Pine Ridge have been filled for the first time in more than a year. Prior to coming on board as chief judge, Abourezk had been serving the tribe has a special judge and handled backlogged cases.
According to a ruling issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Indian Health Service hospital in Pine Ridge, South Dakota has been placed on “immediate jeopardy” status. As reported by the Rapid City Journal, actions taken by the hospital have caused or are likely to cause death or injury to its patients. While on immediate jeopardy status, the hospital will not be able to bill Medicare and Medicaid eligible services to the government.
Documents released by CMS indicated the immediate jeopardy status was invoked following the death of a diabetic male patient who was incorrectly diagnosed at the Pine Ridge hospital.
To learn more about the Pine Ridge Reservation visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.
Police in Pine Ridge are receiving additional assistance in mapping crimes with the new Leica 3D imaging machine. The new technology helps officers map out the scene of a crime or accident in fine detail.
Images created by the machine will assist the police department in presenting evidence to prosecutors and jurors alike.
Previously the police department made use of 2D imaging software. The state-of-the-art Lecia machine creates 3D recreations of crime scenes.
Ideas for cooperation between Pennington County and Oglala Sioux Tribal law enforcement officers was recently discussed a public forum meeting in Kyle, reports KOTA News. The law enforcement agencies are hoping to craft an agreement that would prevent offenders fleeing from one jurisdiction to another in order to avoid criminal penalties.
The meeting was held in part to discuss a potential agreement between the agencies, as well as to solicit public feedback and provide education on the measure. Future meetings will be held to discuss jurisdictional issues.
On June 29, 1911, President Taft signed a proclamation which opened over 450,000 acres on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations, as reported by The Evening Times in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The proclamation also opened approximately 150,000 acres in the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota.
Just six years earlier, the Burke Act was signed into law. The Burke Act amended the General Allotment Act to allow for the relinquishment of tribal lands for sale to non-Native individuals. Policymakers of this time believed that Native Americans would not make adequate use of the land, and so excess land was parcelled off to non-tribal members.
While the proclamation was issued at the end of June, the lands would not be available to non-Natives until October of 1911. Those seeking parcels of the land could request it at several locations, including Rapid City, Gregory, Chamberlain and Dallas.
Removing parcels of land from tribal jurisdiction and placing them into fee status resulted in a checkerboard effect in both Pine Ridge and Rosebud. The intermingling of trust lands, fee lands which all lie within reservation boundaries creates a myriad of jurisdictional issues and often hampers tribes’ ability to use the land for traditional and other purposes.
Oglala Sioux Tribal President Scott Weston recently held a meeting between tribal and federal law enforcement officials to discuss violent crime and methamphetamine use on the reservation, reports KOTA News. Held at the Little Wound High School in Kyle, the group discussed measures to promote safety.
President Weston discussed his previous meetings with U.S. Attorney Randy Seiler. Their conversations resulted in the first public presentation held in Kyle. President Scott also noted that there would be additional informational sessions held across the reservation.
To learn more about the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile. To read more recent news from Pine Ridge, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
During a recent meeting, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council decided to have the South Dakota Department of Social Services administer its Child Protective Services Program, reports KOTA News. The Council also made the decision to place the management of tribal judges under the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Law and Order Committee is tasked with negotiations with the SD Department of Social Services as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs about the transfer of powers.
There have been several additional changes in the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s law enforcement. Attorney General Tatewin Means recently resigned, and the Council recently removed the tribal police force from oversight of the Department of Public Safety Board of Trustees. The Council will now oversee the tribal police force.
For more news on the Oglala Sioux Tribe, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive. Visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile to learn more about the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
The Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation is installing solar panels, reports KOTA News. Gen Pro, a renewable energy company based in Piedmont, SD along with Solar Mosaic, Sun Power, and the Nathan Cummings Foundation are assisting Thunder Valley with the installation.
Thunder Valley is striving to meet the energy needs of the Pine Ridge Reservation in an affordable and environmentally-friendly manner. Thunder Valley Executive Director Nick Tilsen stated that the organization’s goal is to produce 100 percent of the community’s needs for energy that have less of an impact on the environment than current methods.
Nearly 20 staff members at Thunder Valley are learning how to install the solar panels. Thunder Valley plans to celebrate the installation of the solar panels on Earth Day, April 22nd.
Oglala Lakota County is planning to expand an elementary school and looking to build a public high school, reports KOTA News. The high school would be the first public high school on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Wolf Creek school is currently in desperate need of expanded facilities. The school was originally build to accommodate 350 students, but Anthony Fairbanks, superintendent of the school, believes enrollment may be as high as 900 by the end of this school year.
Currently, Oglala Lakota County does not have a public high school. Officials are currently conducting a needs assessment which includes soliciting community feedback through a survey. School leaders are also exploring options for funding the high school.
Due to a low number of tribal police, five Bureau of Indian Affairs police offers were sent to the Pine Ridge Reservation in 2016. However, the officers are scheduled to leave in January, reports KOTA News.
In 2016, the Oglala Sioux Tribe had funding for 44 officers on the reservation, but recruitment and training issues prevented hiring and maintaining a full staff. Oglala Sioux Tribal officials are currently discussing next moves for the police force to ensure officer retention.
To read more about the Oglala Sioux Tribe, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
On Dec. 29, 1890, U.S. Calvary soldiers killed hundreds of unarmed members of the Miniconjou band of Lakota at Wounded Knee, located on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Accounts of what incited the massacre vary, but most include the accidental firing of a gun. Estimates of lives lost range as high as 300, many of which were women and children.
Anxiety regarding the Ghost Dance movement drew government forces into Pine Ridge ahead of the massacre. Adherents to the Ghost Dance religion believed that following an apocalyptic event, Euro-Americans would be gone and tribal members could return to their way of life before the arrival of Europeans. The Ghost Dance sparked alarm in government officials, who believed an uprising would occur if it was allowed to flourish.
To learn more about the history of Pine Ridge, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s civic life and history page on the community.
Mark Meersman, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, is the new chief executive officer of the Pine Ridge Indian Health Service Hospital, reports KOTA News. As CEO, Meersman will be responsible for administrative and health care activities at the hospital.
During his time with the U.S. Air Force, Meersman served as chief of the Health Benefits Branch in the Air Force Surgeon General’s office. As chief of the Health Benefits Branch, he was responsible for health policy for 75 hospitals and clinics.
To read more about the Indian Health Service, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe inaugurated Troy "Scott" Weston as tribal president on Friday, December 9th, 2016 reports the Rapid City Journal. John Yellow Bird Steele exited his seventh term with the ceremonious passing of the canupa pipe between himself and Weston. The passing of the canupa pipe represents the laws of the sacred pipe. These laws include always being truthful, doing as the people ask, putting the people first and staying truthful to the canupa pipe.
Residents said they hope to see improvement in roads as well as more opportunities for youth. Weston promised to work on economic development and representation in Washington for the tribe during his term as president.
For more information about the Oglala Sioux Tribe, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network online news archives.
Early this month, KILI Radio, on the Pine Ridge Reservation, installed its second wind turbine, according to South Dakota Public Broadcasting. The second turbine is part of the station’s effort to operate on sustainable energy.
Arlo Iron Cloud, who works for the radio station, indicated that alternative sources of energy are paramount as energy sources on the reservation are already unreliable. Paired with existing solar energy, the new wind turbine will eventually produce 20 percent of the station’s electrical energy needs.
Entrance fees for Badlands National Park will increase next year to help fund park maintenance projects, reports the Rapid City Journal. Starting on January 3, annual passes for the park will increase to $40 from $30 per vehicle. In 2019, the annual fee will land at $50 per vehicle. Motorcycle entrance feels will increase from $10 to $15 in 2019, and bicyclist and pedestrian fees will increase from $7 to $10 in 2017, and then to $12 in 2019.
The park solicited public comments regarding the fee increases in January of this year. Public meetings were held in Wall, Kadoka, Interior, Rapid City and Pine Ridge. Entrance fees to the park have not been adjusted in a decade.
To read more about Badlands National Park, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.