A welcome sign at the entrance of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Reservation that recognizes the homeland of the Sicangu Lakota Oyate in South Dakota

Need to Know: South Dakota Tribes

Our “Need to Know” blog series explores important Tribal governance-related concepts in detail. In this post, we take a look at the Native nations located in South Dakota.

Nine federally recognized Tribes share geography with South Dakota. (If you’re curious to learn more about sovereignty and what it means to be a Native nation, see our previous post on Minnesota Tribes, where we explore these concepts in more detail.)

Two of the Tribes located in South Dakota—the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate—also share geography with North Dakota. See our previous post on North Dakota Tribes for more information on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe (Lakota) is the largest Tribe in South Dakota, with approximately 46,000 enrolled members. The Pine Ridge Reservation, home to the Oglala Sioux Tribe, is located in southwestern South Dakota and borders Nebraska. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe, another Lakota Tribe, is the second largest Tribe in South Dakota (over 33,000 enrolled members). The Rosebud Indian Reservation is located in south-central South Dakota.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (Lakota) has approximately 16,000 enrolled members, and the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation is the fourth largest reservation (land area) in the United States. Approximately 70% of enrolled members live on the Cheyenne River Reservation, which is located in north central South Dakota.

The Yankton Sioux Tribe (Nakota) has approximately 12,000 members. The Yankton Reservation shares geography with both South Dakota and Nebraska. The Tribe maintains a buffalo herd that grazes on land near the Missouri River. The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe (Nakota and Dakota) has an enrollment size of approximately 3,500 members. The Crow Creek Reservation, located in central South Dakota, is the site of several Arikara and Mandan archeological villages. Like the Yankton Sioux Tribe, Crow Creek also maintains a buffalo herd.

Did you know?

Oceti Sakowin (known to some as the Sioux Nation) is a confederacy speaking three different dialects, the Dakota, Nakota and Lakota. The Lakota, the largest of the three groups, is composed of seven bands that occupy reservations in South and North Dakota. The Dakota or Santee live in South Dakota, Minnesota and Nebraska. The Nakota reside in South Dakota and Montana.”

—Source: Oceti Sakowin Essential Understanding and Standards

The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe (Lakota) and Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe (Dakota) are South Dakota’s smallest Tribes. Lower Brule has around 3,000 enrolled members, while Flandreau has approximately 700. The Lower Brule Indian Reservation is located in central South Dakota; the Flandreau Santee Sioux Reservation borders Minnesota on the east and is located in southeastern South Dakota. The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe operates a popcorn business, Lakota Foods, that provides jobs and revenue to both the Tribe and surrounding communities.

To learn more about South Dakota Tribes, visit our Native Nations Resource Page.