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January 30, 2002

Lower Brule Sioux Reservation

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The Lower Brule Sioux Reservation is located in the central portion of South Dakota, 15 miles southeast of Pierre, SD and 16 miles north of Reliance, SD on Interstate 90. The Kul Wicasa Oyate or Lower Brule Sioux Tribe are a Tribe of the Sicangu, or Burned Thighs, named the Brule’ by the French traders in the days prior to diplomatic relations with the United States government.

The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe has always been known among the Lakota Nation as the Kul Wicasa Oyate and with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, or Upper Brules composed the Sicangu Oyate, the Burned Thighs.

The Lakota Nation or Great Sioux Nation includes the Oglala, Brule, Minnecoujou, Hunkpapa, Blackfeet, Without Bows and Two Kettle.

The Lakotas speak an ‘L’ dialect of Siouan language and were expert horsemen and buffalo hunters on the plains. The Ihanktowan, or Yankton and Yanktonais are called the Wicayela or Middle Sioux.

The Isanti people are comprised of four bands that lived on the eastern side of the Lakota/Dakota Nation. The Isanti and Ihanktowan speak the ‘D’ and ‘N’ dialect of Siouan language. Both were a river-plains people who did some farming as well as buffalo hunting.

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LOWER BRULE SIOUX TRIBAL GOVERNMENT:

The United States Government as defined by theUnited States Constitution has governmental relationships with International, Tribal, and State entities. The Tribal nations have a government-to-government relationship with the United States.

The Tribes of the Great Sioux Nation signed treaties in 1824, 1851, 1865 and 1868 with the United States which are the legal documents that established our boundaries and recognized our rights as sovereign governments.

The Kul Wicasa Oyate or Lower Brule Sioux Tribe are a Tribe of the Sicangu, or Burned Thighs, named the Brule’ by the French traders in the days prior to diplomatic relations with the United States government.

The Kul Wicasa Oyate was originally designated reservation lands along the Missouri River recognized in a treaty with the United States signed on October 14, 1865.

The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe was further defined and the boundaries expanded by the Act of March 2, 1889 which identified all the reservations in present day North and South Dakota. This includes all right-of-way, waterways, watercourses and streams running through any part of the reservation and to such others lands as may hereafter be added to the reservation under the law of the United States.

The original reservation was reduced to its present size by approximately 50 percent through subsequent Homestead Acts to provide land for non-Indian settlers.

The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe operates under a constitution and a federal corporate charter consistent with the Indian Reorganization Act of June 18, 1934.

The Tribal Council governs the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe. The Tribal Council consists of a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, a Secretary/Treasurer and three additional Council people all of whom are elected by the tribal membership. The Tribal Council Chairman serves as the administrative head of the Tribe.

The Tribal Chairman, Officers and Council serve a term of two years at-large without regard to residence in any district. Over 90 percent of the population now live in the community and district known as Lower Brule.

The construction of the Big Bend and Fort Randall dams on the Missouri River forced many families and the entire community of Lower Brule to completely relocate to higher ground. Prior to the inundation of lands along the Missouri River, the population was divided into four districts and represented as such on the Tribal Council.

The districts are still referenced as geographic areas on the reservations, including Fort George, Iron Nation, Lower Brule, and Fort Hale.

Tribal/Agency Headquarters: Lower Brule, South Dakota
Counties: Lyman and Stanley, South Dakota
Number of enrolled members: 2,502
Reservation Population: 1,362
Labor Force: 609
Unemployment rates percentage: 30
Language: Lakota/Dakota and English

 

Land Status: Acres
Total Area: 225,970 acres
Tribal Owned/Use: 109,943 acres
Individual Allotted: 25,137 acres
Total Tribal/Allotted: 135,080 acres
Non-Indian Owned: 90,890 acres
Reservoir Taken area: 23,465 acres

LAND:

The Lower Brule Sioux Reservation is located in the central portion of South Dakota, 15 miles southeast of Pierre, SD and 16 miles north of Reliance, SD on Interstate 90. The reservation boundaries on the east and north include lakes Sharpe and Francis Case, the large reservoirs formed by mainstem dams on the Missouri River.

The reservation covers an area of about 404 square miles within Lyman and Stanley counties. Of this area about 35 square miles are covered by major reservoirs and about 201 square miles are owned by the Tribe and Tribal members.

The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe maintains the right and responsibility to provide environmental authority in compliance with Tribal and Federal law for protection of the land and resources within the exterior boundaries of the reservation through code development and regulatory procedures. The maintenance and protection of the land is very important to the Kul Wicasa people and our future generations.

 

CULTURE:

The Great Sioux Nation is also called The Lakota Nation, Tetons and the Western Sioux. The people of the Sioux Nation refer to themselves as Lakota/Dakota which means friend or ally. The United States government took the word Sioux from (Nadowesioux), which comes from a Chippewa (Ojibway) word which means little snake or enemy. The French traders and trappers who worked with the Chippewa( Ojibway) people shortened the word to Sioux.

The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe has always been known among the Lakota Nation as the Kul Wicasa Oyate and with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, or Upper Brules composed the Sicangu Oyate, the Burned Thighs. The Lakota Nation or Great Sioux Nation includes the Oglala, Brule, Minnecoujou, Hunkpapa, Blackfeet, Without Bows and Two Kettle.

The Lakotas speak an ‘L’ dialect of Siouan language and were expert horsemen and buffalo hunters on the plains. The Ihanktowan, or Yankton and Yanktonais are called the Wicayela or Middle Sioux. The Isanti people are comprised of four bands that lived on the eastern side of the Lakota/Dakota Nation.

The Isanti and Ihanktowan speak the ‘D’ and ‘N’ dialect of Siouan language. Both were a river-plains people who did some farming as well as buffalo hunting.

The government identified all the Tribes with similar languages as the Sioux people. The oral tradition of our people state that the Lakota and Dakota people were one nation. The Lakota people moved away and formed their own nation. The Lakota/Dakota people still practice their sacred and traditional ceremonies which encompass the seven rites of Lakota Nation brought by the White Buffalo Calf Woman.

Social activities such as powwow, rodeos, and races are celebrated in the summer months. Special powwows held for an individual accomplishment, reaching a certain stage in their lives such as graduation or acceptance into the armed forces with traditional honoring ceremonies, give-aways, and feasts to celebrate their accomplishments. The oral tradition is still passed down from the elders to the youth.

The future of the Kul Wicasa Oyate is directly related to the protection of our homelands and how well we enable our children to continue our cultural traditions and manage our resources in rebuilding our economy. We believe the children of the Kul Wicasa Oyate and the Lakota/Dakota Nation have the desire and the ability to survive, grow, and rebuild our Nation in the 21st century.

 

HISTORY:

The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe is part of the Great Sioux Nation as the Kul Wicasa of the Sicangu Oyate. The Great Sioux Nation retains our land base in accordance with the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. At one time, The Great Sioux Nation extended from the Big Horn Mountains in the west to the west side of Wisconsin and from Canada in the North to the Republican River in the south.

The Great Sioux Nation was reduced in the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty from the Big Horn mountains in the west to the east bank of the Missouri River, including parts of North Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana. This includes all of western South Dakota in the middle of the treaty lands.

The Black Hills are located in the center the Great Sioux Nation. The Black Hills are sacred to the Lakota/ Dakota people and today considered an important part of our spiritual lives.

A direct violation of the 1868 Treaty was committed in 1874 by General George A. Custer and his 7th Cavalry. The 7th Cavalry entered the Black Hills, the center of the Great Sioux Nation and found gold in the Black Hills.

The Gold Rush started the conflict between the United States and Great Sioux Nation. The Great Sioux Nation opposed this violation of the treaty. The United States Government wanted to buy or rent the Black Hills from the Lakota people. The Great Sioux Nation refused to sell or rent their sacred lands.

The 7th Cavalry under General George A. Custer was requested to bring the Sioux bands in and place them on the reservation lands. On June 25, 1876, the Battle of the Little Big Horn between the 7th Cavalry and Lakota Nation with their allies Cheyenne and Araphoes at Greasy Grass, Montana took place. The Sioux Nation won a victory over General George A. Custer and his 7th Cavalry.

The Great Sioux Nation scattered, some to Canada and others surrendered to the reservations. The United States Government demanded that the Lakota nation move to the reservations. The people finally surrendered after being cold and hungry and moved on the reservations.

The government still insisted on buying the Black Hills from the Lakota people. The Sioux (Lakota) Nation refused to sell their sacred lands. The United States Government introduced the Sell or Starve Bill or the Agreement of 1877, which illegally took the Black Hills from the Great Sioux Nation. The Lakota people starved but refused to sell their sacred land.

The Allotment Act of 1887 allotted Indian lands into 160 acre tracts to individual heads of households and 80 acres to adult males which further divided the nation. The Act of 1889 broke up the Great Sioux Nation into smaller reservations, the remainder of which exist today at about one half their original size in 1889.

CLIMATE:

The average rainfall is 16-17 inches during the summer season. The growing season lasts three months, June through August. The snow fall averages from moderate to heavy for winter weather. The temperature in the winter is from 30 degrees below zero with an average of 20 degrees above zero.

The average temperature in the summer is 80 degrees but will range from 69 degrees to 110 degrees from June to August. The wind averages 14 mph per day annually. The area suffers from occasional droughts in the summer and severe blizzards in the winter. The spring and fall seasons are very pleasant.

TRANSPORTATION:

The Lower Brule Sioux Reservation is served by Highway 47 to the Big Bend Dam, BIA 10, a connecting road from Lower Brule, South Dakota south 16 miles to Interstate 90, and a county road through Kennebec, South Dakota to I-90. The Lewis and Clark Trail or historical highway 1806 runs along the Missouri River from Lower Brule to Fort Pierre, South Dakota.

There is no public or major transportation facilities existing on the reservation. There are some charter buses and limousine services for patrons of the Golden Buffalo Casino in Lower Brule. The Greyhound Bus services are located in Chamberlain and Pierre, South Dakota. The nearest commercial airline is in Pierre, South Dakota, 65 miles northwest of the community of Lower Brule.

TRIBAL ECONOMY:

The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe’s major economic occupation is cattle ranching and farming for 26 tribal operators. The Tribe operates two large irrigated farms, 5,900 acres under the Lower Brule Farm Corporation, a tribal construction enterprise, and guided hunting for small game, big game, and a goose camp operation.

The Tribe also operates the Golden Buffalo Casino and Motel with a convention center, an RV Park, and a gas station. A recent tribal venture is the offering of tour packages on a daily and weekly basis including historical and cultural attractions for both national and global tourists from several countries.

Commercial business by private operators include a convenience store, laundromat, and a video arcade/fast food shop, hunting/fishing guide service, arts and handcrafts, a small motel, and a branch of Norwest Bank.

The majority of employment is provided by the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, the Golden Buffalo Casino, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Indian Health Service.

RECREATION:

The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe has some of finest hunting and fishing around with guided hunts provided by the Wildlife Management Department. Water sports are enjoyed by many also.

The Tribe operates the Golden Buffalo Casino and Resort, a 40-room motel with a convention center. The Tribe also has an RV park for tourists, hunters and fisherman in Lower Brule, South Dakota. Tribal organizations sponsor high stakes bingo games several nights of the week.

The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe sponsors two annual pow wows, one for youth in early June and the Lower Brule Fair and Pow Wow the second week in August. This event also includes a rodeo, horse racing, and a softball tournament.

The community of Lower Brule has a newly-completed swimming pool as well as several beach areas and boat ramps for fishing and water sports. During the year other sports activities such as softball, volleyball, and basketball tournaments are also held during the year.

PUBLIC UTILITIES:

The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe operates a propane gas service for the reservation. West Central Electric Cooperative, Inc. supplies electricity and Internet access service to the reservation. The Golden West Telephone Company provides telephone service to the reservation. The Rural Water Supply System (RWSS) is in the planning stages and will supply clean water from the Missouri River to the communities of Lower Brule and West Brule for domestic and agricultural use in all the surrounding reservation area. The RWSS is part of the Mni Wiconi Water Project to provide water for the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations and the Lyman-Jones county residents.

COMMUNITY SERVICES:

The Lower Brule Sioux provides an elderly nutrition program, youth recreational activities, and a Horseman’s Club. Health care is provided by the Indian Health Service at the Health Center Clinic and the Tribal Health Department Community Health Representative and Ambulance Service. The Health Department also provides examinations and eyeglasses to all residents at reduced rates.

HOUSING:

The Lower Brule Housing Authority manages about 400 housing units in the communities of Lower Brule and West Brule and on rural scattered sites through HUD Low Rent and Mutual Help home ownership housing programs. Other housing is available through the Bureau of Indian Affairs for their employees. Private housing stock is limited.

FUTURE:

The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe has been recognized as an independent leader in tribal enterprise development. The Tribe desires to continue progress in providing for our people and the development of increased self-sufficiency. The Tribe continues to explore means to expand the Lower Brule Farm Corporation through food and feed production.

Planning and development are underway in Cultural Resources to preserve the resources and educate the Tribal members and non-members. The plans include the development of tourism to strengthen the economy on the reservation. The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe will continue to search for ways to maintain our culture and develop new economic opportunities for our future generations.

Environmental Summary:

Effect of Pick-Sloan Act: The following infrastructure was lost to the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe as a result of the creation of Lakes Sharpe and Francis Case:

domestic water systems miles of main roads
ranch water systems housing units
23,465 acres of land rodeo arena
acres of waterbed race track

Reservation Water System: Water is the key to increasing the quality of life and promoting full economic development on the Lower Brule Reservation. An adequate supply of good quality water is needed by the (1,178) Indians and (184) non-Indians living on the reservation.

Problems with water quality and inadequate supply are common throughout the reservation. This condition has a detrimental effect on health and quality of life as well as deterring economic growth. The availability of a plentiful and high quality water supply is vital to the health and well being of the people living on the Lower Brule Reservation.

The level health and quality of life of the general population is directly related to the quality of their domestic water supply. Many residents currently depend on poorly constructed or low capacity individual wells. These sources are often contaminated with bacteria or undesirable minerals, provide an inadequate quantity of water, and are costly to maintain and operate.

Many people wish to return to their family lands or relocate to rural areas to raise their families but are limited by the unavailability of water.

Agriculture is the primary industry on the Lower Brule Reservation and the key to the full development of this industry is water. Surface water in small streams, lakes, and dugouts is scattered throughout the area. Surface water, however, is a unreliable year-round supply and generally available only during the wet periods of spring and summer.

During drought periods, these sources often dry up, and livestock must be sold or moved off the reservation. Shallow groundwater is scarce and unreliable and deep groundwater, while generally more plentiful, is highly mineralized and of poor quality. This lack of an adequate water supply has also reduced the livestock production on the reservation.

The grazing lands cannot be fully utilized and valuable resource is wasted. The lack of stability in the production of feeder-cattle also discourages related industrial development such as cattle feeding, packing plants, and other value added industries.

Hydrologic Setting: Shallow groundwater is not obtainable on most of the Lower Brule Indian Reservation, and where it is found, it is often of poor quality. Surface waters, with the exception of the Missouri River, though valuable and widely distributed resources, are undependable because of scanty and erratic precipitation.

Artesian water from deeply buried bedrock aquifers underlies all of the reservation. These aquifers are not, and probably will not become highly developed sources of water because of the high-to-very-high salinity and other mineral content of artesian water in most of the area.

Water Availability and Use: Surface water is the major water source for the reservation with the Missouri River providing by far the largest part of the surface water supply. Other reservation streams have extremely variable flow patterns and are not reliable enough for a year-round supply.

Groundwater is not as abundant as surface water and where available it is usually adequate for only small scale use. For these reasons, the Missouri River is the obvious source for a reservation water supply system. The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe is a part of the Mni Wiconi Project for delivery of Missouri River water to the Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Lower Brule Reservations.

Lower Brule currently utilizes the Missouri River as the source for the community water system at a current level of 150,000 gallons per day. The water system serves the Lower Brule and the West Brule community located three miles west as well as a number of scattered sites in the area. Plans are under consideration to supply water from the existing intake for portions of the Lyman-Jones and the Lower Brule Rural Water Supply System under the Mni Wiconi Project.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs NRIS data identifies a total of 15,803 acres of farmland on the Lower Brule reservation, including 8,294 of irrigated acres. A recent study completed by the U.S. Geological Survey will be researched for information on quantity of use.

Terrain: Rolling hills, river breaks, and stock dams dominate the reservation.

Tribal Lands Acres
Agriculture 15,803
Grazing 115,921
Forestry 677
Other 197
Total: 132,598

 

Environmental Problem Statement: In 1996, Tribal environmental staff identified drinking water quality as the major reservation environmental problem which may be hazardous to the health of reservation residents.

 

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