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Oglala Sioux Tribe Empowerment Zone

Lead Entity: Oglala Sioux Tribe Business and Economic Development Committee


State: #9; #9; #9; #9; South Dakota
Tribal Area (Census Tracts): Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (9912, 9931, 9936, 9937)
Community Population: #9; #9; 14,562
Poverty Rate: 63.1%
Net Land Area: 1,000 square miles
Maps: Statewide and Local


Community Overview

The empowerment zone is located in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation along the southwestern border of South Dakota. The reservation is homeland of the Oglala Lakota Tribe, the largest of the seven bands that make up the Teton Lakota Nation. The zone includes the most densely populated areas of the Reservation, covering approximately 1,000 of the Reservation’s 7,000 square miles. It encompasses all of Shannon County, which is the poorest county in the nation, and parts of Jackson and Bennett Counties. The Lakota Fund, one of the key partners, was started to provide capital and technical assistance on the Pine Ridge Reservation. It is the major lending institution in an environment where most people do not have access to credit or savings institutions. The Reservation has a higher rate of diabetes, alcoholism, heart disease, road accidents, other accidents, and suicide than the American Indian population as a whole and all other races. The infant mortality rate is higher than the national average, and the tuberculosis rate is eight times higher. Alcoholism affects nearly every family on the reservation. The Lakota have the lowest life expectancy of any group in America.


Strategic Plan Highlights

With the implementation of the strategic plan, the community strives to balance economic and community development.


Established a partnership with HUD and other organizations to develop and implement a Reservation based-system of financing to purchase homes or for home improvements.


The Oglala Sioux Tribe has obtained a lot of federal funding but it is spread out among several agencies. Non financial resources are drawn from both inside and outside the Tribe. Tribe intends to keep administration costs to below 15%. Also the plan allocates $4.3 million of received tribal, federal, state and foundation funs to accomplish goals and benchmarks.

Community Involvement

There were 30 meetings. The meetings were publicized and open to everyone. Everyone was given an equal voice. Partners were chosen from those who participated. Good outreach to get to unemployed who was not attending. A person was specifically hired to contact the unemployed groups. Specifically included welfare recipients on the board. They also broadcast several segments of Tribal Council meetings related to the Empowerment Zone on the radio.


Daphne Richards-Cook


PO Box 479


Porcupine, South Dakota 57772


(605) 455-1570


(605) 455-1571


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