Oglala Lakota of the Pine Ridge Reservation

The Oglala (“to scatter one’s own”) are one of the seven subtribes of the Lakota people. They are members of the major Sioux division known as the Western/Teton Sioux. The Lakota are the westernmost of the three Siouan language groups that prefer to be known as the Oglala Lakota Nation because in Ojibwe, Sioux means “little snake or enemy.”

The first recorded notice of the Oglala Nation by Lewis and Clark was in 1806 when they encountered the Tribe living above the Brule Sioux on Missouri River, between the Cheyenne River and Bad Rivers, in present day South Dakota. However, the party only mentions two divisions—the Sheo and the Okandandas.

A majority of the Oglala live on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Their reservation is home to many communities including Oglala, Kyle, Manderson, Porcupine, Wanblee and Long Valley. The reservation itself is the 8th largest in the country, as it covers 11,000 square miles (2.2 million acres).

There are three diverse geographic regions within the reservation. The southern and eastern sections are composed of grassy plains. The west-central section merges with the small eastern spurs of the Black Hills and is an area of rolling pine-covered hills and ridges. North of the wooded area is about 160,000 acres of the Badlands National Park. Additionally, the Pine Ridge Reservation borders the Nebraska state line to the south, Rosebud Indian Reservation to the east and Badlands National Park to the north.

Two of the Most Notable Oglala Sioux:
Red Cloud (1822-1909) was an Oglala chief and a respected warrior and statesman. He successfully led the fight to close off the Bozeman Trail. He also worked to establish a Jesuit-run school for Native American children. He is buried on a hill overlooking the Red Cloud Indian School named in his honor.

Crazy Horse (c.1840-1877) was a respected war leader of the Oglala Lakota, and fought against the U.S. government in an effort to preserve the traditions and values of the Lakota way of life. He is most known for his participation in the Battle of Little Bighorn in Montana in June, 1876.


While in the area of the Pine Ridge Reservation don’t miss:

  • The Red Cloud Heritage Center houses a collection of prize-winning paintings, graphics and sculptures created by contemporary Native American artists from across North America. Housed here is also historical and contemporary Lakota art, including beadwork and porcupine quillwork .
  • The Wounded Knee Massacre Site is located south of Porcupine on BIA Highway 27.
  • Oglala Lakota College and Historical Center: The accredited institution was chartered by the Oglala Sioux Tribe to serve the Pine Ridge Reservation by offering a wide range of educational opportunities while incorporating Lakota culture and tribal self-determination.
  • The Pine Ridge Visitor Center, located in the Chamber of Commerce building at 7900 Lakota Prairie Drive near Kyle, provides visitor and travel information, featuring Lakota art and wildlife displays.

Contact Information

Reservations and Information:
(605) 867-5821

Pine Ridge, South Dakota, United States

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