In 1889, the Pine Ridge Native American Reserve was established for the preservation of the Lakota nation within South Dakota. However, little is ever heard about this reserve, and many citizens of the United States are unaware of its existence. You may think, “What does it matter if I know about the Pine Ridge Reservation or any other Indian reservation?” Well, hopefully the information I am about to disclose to you will change your mind.
In 1889, the Pine Ridge Reservation was allocated for the Lakota Nation. This was after the Lakota Nation had unjustly loss the Black Hills to the United States Government without receiving any compensation. This was just the beginning of a whirlwind of unjust actions directed to the Great Sioux Nation and the Lakota tribe. Since this, the people of the Pine Ridge Reservation have experienced consistent violence with US government, despite their own abilities to govern themselves. The most recent documented violence occurred in the 1970s. This event was known as the Pine Ridge Shootout between FBI agents and Indian officials.
Why am I telling you, the reader, all this history? I am telling you this in order to lead up to the shocking statistics of the present day situation within the Pine Ridge Reserve. When I heard these numbers, I cried.
- 97% of Pine Ridge residents live below the federal poverty line.
- The unemployment rate is between 85% to 95%.
- Death due to Heart Disease is twice the National Average.
- 60% of homes lack electricity, are infested with Black Mold, or do not have running water.
- The infant mortality rate is the highest on the continent, and 300% higher than the national average.
- The average income per household is between $2,600 to $3,500.
- The life expectancy is the lowest in the Western Hemisphere.
- High school dropout rate is above 70%.
- The Pine Ridge Reservation Schools are in the bottom 10% of the Government’s education funding.
When I read these statistics, it shocked me. The idea that a group of people in America are living under these conditions, and no one has done anything to help it is upsetting to me. The fact that I was not even aware of these statistics until recently shocked me again. As Americans, it is our duty to help those in need, especially our citizens. I personally believe that this has not been accomplished in the case of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Something must be done.