The statistics are staggering:


  • Oglala Lakota County, which comprises the majority of Pine Ridge Reservation, ranked dead last in per capita income out of 3,143 U.S. counties for 2009-2013

  • More than 50% of Oglala Lakota County residents live below the federal poverty line according to a 2014 US Census study

  • Unemployment is close to 90%  

  • 39% of homes do not have electricity

  • Half the population over 40 years of age has diabetes

  • Tuberculosis occurs at eight times the national rate

  • As many as two-thirds of adults suffer from alcoholism

  • One-quarter of children are born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders

  • Infant mortality is the highest in North America and 3 times the US average

  • Life expectancy is 48 years for men and 52 years for women (comparable to Afghanistan or Somalia)

  • Fewer than 17% of Pine Ridge residents have a post-secondary degree

  • The graduation rate at Pine Ridge High School was 45% for 2009-2010, and has been reported as low as 10%

  • Teacher turnover is eight times the national average

  • Almost a third of reservation youth have seriously considered suicide, and 1 in 10 has attempted suicide in the last 12 months

Pine Ridge Reservation 

Pine Ridge Reservation, Wazí Aháŋhaŋ Oyáŋke, has been called the “poster child of American poverty and of the failures of the reservation system.”


Like many Native communities in the United States, Pine Ridge faces tremendous challenges of poverty, disease, substance abuse, unemployment and hopelessness.  Children and youth suffer some of the greatest impacts, and according to 2010 census data more than 40% of Pine Ridge residents are under 24 years of age.

© 2017,  Lakota Leap

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