The Cheyenne River Indian Reservation was created in 1889 by the breakup of the Great Sioux Reservation, following the defeat of the Lakota in a series of wars in the 1870s. At present the reservation covers almost all of Dewey and Ziebach counties in South Dakota. In addition, there are very tiny pieces of off-reservation trust land in Haakon, Meade, and Stanley counties. The total land area is 11,051.447 km² (4,266.987 sq mi), making it the fourth-largest Indian reservation in land area in the United States. Its largest community is North Eagle Butte.
The terms of the Treaty of Fort Laramie
concluded in 1868 granted the Lakota a single large reservation that covered parts of North Dakota
, South Dakota
, and four other states. However, about one half of this reservation was confiscated by the United States government. Then the damming of the Missouri River
, started in 1948, submerged an additional 8 percent of the Reservation.
The 2000 census
reported a population of 8,470 persons. Many of the 13 small communities on the Cheyenne River Reservation do not have water systems, making it difficult to live in sanitary conditions, although great strides have been made in recent years with construction of water systems tapping the Missouri Main Stem reservoirs, like Lake Oahe
, which forms the eastern edge of the Reservation. With few jobs available, many tribal members do not have jobs, and two-thirds of the population survives on much less than one-third the American average income. These dismal living conditions have contributed to feelings of hopelessness and despair among the youth. Indian Country Today
reports than one in five girls on the Cheyenne River Reservation have contemplated suicide and more than one in ten have attempted it.
The CRIR is the home of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST) or Cheyenne River Lakota Nation (Oyate), which is made up of parts of four (the Minnecojou, Sans Arc, Blackfoot and Two Kettle) of the traditional seven bands of the Lakota, also known as Teton Sioux.
The CRIR is bordered on the north by the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, on the west by Meade and Perkins Counties, on the south by the Cheyenne River, and on the east by the Missouri River in Lake Oahe. Much of the land inside the boundaries is privately owned. The CRST headquarters and BIA agency are located at Eagle Butte, South Dakota, and the reservation is reached via US-212.