Wings Like Eagles, Inc.
...on Mission until the First are no longer last
Reservation History
First Class Culture in Third World Conditions

     Generations ago, a proud Lakota people wandered the Great Plains of North America according to their own free will. The decisions to move their nomadic villages rested only with the weather, the season, and the migrating tendencies of the great buffalo herds. These people were proud and honorable and they were known to be stealthy warriors, great hunters, and nurturers of their extended families.

      In the years leading up to 1890, the government of the United States of America felt threatened by the nomadic nature of these great tribes and imposed extensive efforts to sequester them in designated areas, or reservations. Those who resisted or were perceived to resist this imposition were forced into submission or killed. The horrific Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890 on this reservation was a putrid testimonial to the over-use of military force implemented to accomplish this dominance. 
   
     These proud people still live on these reservations even though these designated areas of land were selected due to their undesirable nature. A difficult living, at best, was imminent for this “first Nation” as they struggled to modify their lifestyles and exist in these locations. They have existed despite every effort to weaken and dilute their rich culture. 
 
Shocking Statistics
Employment:
          
  • Recent reports vary but many point out that the median income on the Pine Ridge Reservation is approximately $2,600 to $3,500 per year.
  • The unemployment rate on Pine Ridge is said to be approximately 83-85% and can be higher during the winter months when travel is difficult or often impossible.
  • According to 2006 resources, about 97% of the population lives below Federal poverty levels.
  • There is little industry, technology, or commercial infrastructure on the Reservation to provide employment.
  • Rapid City, South Dakota is the nearest town of size (population approximately 57,700) for those who can travel to find work.  It is located 120 miles from the Reservation. 
  • The nearest large city to Pine Ridge is Denver, Colorado located some 350 miles away.
Life Expectancy & Health Conditions:
          
  • Some figures state that the life expectancy on the Reservation is 48 years old for men and 52 for women. Other reports state that the average life expectancy on the Reservation is 45 years old.  These statistics are far from the 77.5 years of age life expectancy average found in the United States as a whole.  According to current USDA Rural Development documents, the Lakota have the lowest life expectancy of any group in America.
  • Teenage suicide rate on the Pine Ridge Reservation is 150% higher than the U.S. national average for this age group.
  • The infant mortality rate is the highest on this continent and is about 300% higher than the U.S. national average.
  • More than half the Reservation's adults battle addiction and disease.  Alcoholism, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and malnutrition are pervasive.
  • The rate of diabetes on the Reservation is reported to be 800% higher than the U.S. national average.
  • Recent reports indicate that almost 50% of the adults on the Reservation over the age of 40 have diabetes.
  • As a result of the high rate of diabetes on the Reservation, diabetic-related blindness, amputations, and kidney failure are common.
  • The tuberculosis rate on the Pine Ridge Reservation is approximately 800% higher than the U.S. national average.
  • Cervical cancer is 500% higher than the U.S. national average.
  • It is reported that at least 60% of the homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation are infested with Black Mold, Stachybotrys.  This infestation causes an often-fatal condition with infants, children, elderly, those with damaged immune systems, and those with lung and pulmonary conditions at the highest risk.  Exposure to this mold can cause hemorrhaging of the lungs and brain as well as cancer.
  • A Federal Commodity Food Program is active but supplies mostly inappropriate foods (high in carbohydrate and/or sugar) for the largely diabetic population of the Reservation.
  • A small non-profit Food Co-op is in operation on the Reservation but is available only for those with funds to participate.
Educational Issues:
      
  • School drop-out rate is over 70%.
  • According to a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) report, the Pine Ridge Reservation schools are in the bottom 10% of school funding by U.S. Department of Education and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  • Teacher turnover is 800% that of the U.S. national average
Housing Conditions:
 
  • The small BIA/Tribal Housing Authority homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation are overcrowded and scarce, resulting in many homeless families who often use tents or cars for shelter.  Many families live in old cabins or dilapidated mobile homes and trailers.
  • According to a 2003 report from South Dakota State University, the majority of the current Tribal Housing Authority homes were built from 1970-1979.  The report brings to light that a great percentage of that original construction by the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) was “shoddy and substandard.”  The report also states that 26% of the housing units on the Reservation are mobile homes, often purchased or obtained (through donations) as used, low-value units with negative-value equity.
  • Even though there is a large homeless population on the Reservation, most families never turn away a relative no matter how distant the blood relation. Consequently, many homes often have large numbers of people living in them.
  • In a recent case study, the Tribal Council estimated a need for at least 4,000 new homes in order to combat the homeless situation.
  • There is an estimated average of 17 people living in each family home (a home which may only have two to three rooms).  Some larger homes, built for 6 to 8 people, have up to 30 people living in them.
  • Over-all, 59% of the Reservation homes are substandard.
  • Over 33% of the Reservation homes lack basic water and sewage systems as well as electricity.
  • Many residents must carry (often contaminated) water from the local rivers daily for their personal needs.
  • Some Reservation families are forced to sleep on dirt floors.
  • Without basic insulation or central heating in their homes, many residents on the Pine Ridge Reservation use their ovens to heat their homes.
  • Many Reservation homes lack adequate insulation.  Even more homes lack central heating.
  • Periodically, Reservation residents are found dead from hypothermia (freezing).
  • It is reported that at least 60% of the homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation need to be burned to the ground and replaced with new housing due to infestation of the potentially-fatal Black Mold, Stachybotrys.  There is no insurance or government program to assist families in replacing their homes.
  • 39% of the homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation have no electricity.
  • The most common form of heating fuel is propane.  Wood-burning is the second most common form of heating a home although wood supplies are often expensive or difficult to obtain.
  • Many Reservation homes lack basic furniture and appliances such as beds, refrigerators, and stoves.
  • 60% of Reservation families have no land-line telephone.  The Tribe has recently issued basic cell phones to the residents.  However, these cell phones (commonly called commodity phones) do not operate off the Reservation at all and are often inoperable in the rural areas on the Reservation or during storms or wind.
  • Computers and internet connections are very rare.
Life on the Reservation:
 
  • Most Reservation families live in rural and often isolated areas.
  • The largest town on the Reservation is the village of Pine Ridge which has a population of approximately 5,720people and is the administrative center for the Reservation.
  • There are few improved (paved) roads on the Reservation and most of the rural homes are inaccessible during times of rain or snow.
  • Weather is extreme on the Reservation.  Severe winds are always a factor.  Traditionally, summer temperatures reach well over 110°F and winters bring bitter cold with temperatures that can reach - 50°F or worse.  Flooding, tornados, or wildfires are always a risk.
  • The Pine Ridge Reservation still has no banks, discount stores, or movie theaters.  It has only one grocery store of any moderate size and it is located in the village of Pine Ridge on the Reservation.  A motel just opened in 2006 near the Oglala Lakota College at Kyle, South Dakota.  There are said to be about 8 Bed and Breakfast or campsite locations found across the Reservation but that number varies from time to time since most are part of a private home.
  • Several of the banks and lending institutions nearest to the Reservation have been targeted for investigation of fraudulent or predatory lending practices, with the citizens of the Pine Ridge Reservation as their victims.
  • There are no public libraries except one at the Oglala Lakota College.
  • There is 1 radio station on the Pine Ridge Reservation.  KILI 90.1FM is located near the town of Porcupine on the Reservation.
Alcoholism:
 
  • Alcoholism affects 8 out of 10 families on the Reservation.
  • The death rate from alcohol-related problems on the Reservation is 300% higher than the remaining US population.
  • The Oglala Lakota Nation has prohibited the sale and possession of alcohol on the Pine Ridge Reservation since the early 1970's.  However, the town of Whiteclay, Nebraska (which sits 400 yards off the Reservation border in a contested "buffer" zone) has approximately 14 residents and four liquor stores which sell over 4,100,000cans of beer each year resulting in a $3,000,000 annual trade.  Unlike other Nebraska communities, Whiteclay exists only to sell liquor and make money. It has no schools, no churches, no civic organizations, no parks, no benches, no public bathrooms, no fire service and no law enforcement.  Tribal officials have repeatedly pleaded with the State of Nebraska to close these liquor stores or enforce the State laws regulating liquor stores but have been consistently refused.

Wings Like Eagles, Inc / PO Box 99505 / Jeffersontown, KY 40269-0505