The Pine Ridge Reservation is home to the Oglala Lakota. Located in southwestern South Dakota, it is the eighth largest reservation in the United States, larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined. Population figures vary depending on the source. A 2005 study conducted by Colorado State University anthropologist Kathleen Pickering estimated the population to be over 28,000. This number has since been accepted as accurate by the U.S. Department of Housing & Development (HUD) and the Oglala Sioux Tribal government.
Pine Ridge is one of the poorest communities in the US, with unemployment rates exceeding 85 percent. Over 90 percent of residents live below the Federal poverty level. During the frigid winters, utility bills may exceed $400 per month. Life expectancy is the lowest in the Western Hemisphere, with high rates of alcohol and drug abuse, suicide, diabetes, and other health problems. Despite all this, Pine Ridge residents persevere and even thrive. Families are very close, and children are highly valued. The Oglala Lakota are a proud and strong people who have endured much and still hold hope for a better future.