Crow Creek Indian Reservation
Location of Crow Creek Indian Reservation, South Dakota
|Counties||Buffalo / Hughes / Hyde|
|o Governing body||Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Council|
|o Total||196.235 sq mi (508.248 km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (CST)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
|Website||South Dakota Tribal Government Relations: Crow Creek Sioux Tribe|
The Crow Creek Indian Reservation (Lakota: K?aí Wakpá Oyá?ke) is located in parts of Buffalo, Hughes, and Hyde counties on the east bank of the Missouri River in central South Dakota in the United States. It has a land area of 421.658 square miles (1,092.09 km2) and a 2000 census population of 2,225 persons. The major town and capital of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe is Fort Thompson.
The town is located adjacent to the Big Bend Dam, which holds back Big Bend Reservoir (also known as Lake Sharpe), one of the four Missouri Mainstem reservoirs constructed by the US Army Corps of Engineers in the Pick-Sloan Plan. Authorized in 1944 for flood control and hydropower, the dam and lake were completed in the 1960s.
The people of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe are mostly descendants of the Mdewakanton Dakota Tribe of south and central Minnesota, who settled on the reservation after escape or exile from Minnesota following the Dakota War of 1862 in Minnesota. Some Yankton and lower Yanktonai Dakota also reside on the reservation. Although considered to be a part of the Great Sioux Reservation by some writers, the Crow Creek Reservation, established in 1862, has always been separate.
The reservation originally included bottom lands along the Missouri, which had been farmed previously by Mandan and Arikara, and others prior to these tribes. The peoples were decimated in smallpox and other epidemics in the 18th century. Today several former Mandan and Arikara villages are archaeological sites located within the Crow Creek Reservation.
Within the reservation are two pre-contact archeological sites that have been designated as National Historic Landmarks. Fort Thompson Mounds is an archeological site from c. 800, with evidence of some of the first pottery makers on the plains. The Crow Creek Massacre Site has revealed evidence of fierce conflict between Native American cultures about 1325 AD, likely when they were competing for resources at a time of climate and habitat change.
The development of Lake Sharpe following completion of the Big Bend Dam flooded much of this land, forcing relocation of Fort Thompson and other settlements. Loss of the most productive, fertile bottomlands worsened the economic conditions in the area. Allotment and land sales reduced the amount of land in both tribal and Indian ownership, and the size of the Reservation was reduced by governmental action between its establishment in 1862 and modern times.
The reservation, and the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, is organized into three districts. The tribe runs its own school, the Crow Creek Tribal Schools system, with an elementary school at Fort Thompson and a K-12 boarding and day school at Stephan, approximately 10 miles (16 km) north of Fort Thompson. Most of the tribe's land is leased to a few large ranching families. Unemployment is high.
The tribe operates the Lode Star Casino and Hotel, attracting tourists to the reservation; as well as to the archaeological sites, Lake Sharpe's fishing and boating, and casual travelers. The reservation is located southeast of Pierre and north of Chamberlain. It is reached via South Dakota Highway 47 or South Dakota Highway 50 off Interstate 90, or via South Dakota Highway 34 east from Pierre.
The Lower Brule Indian Reservation is located on the west bank of the Missouri River, directly across from the Crow Creek Reservation.
In 2002 a monument was dedicated at Big Bend Dam. The Spirit of the Circle Monument honors the more than 1,300 people who died of malnutrition and exposure over a three-year period in the 1860s at the reservation following the forcible removal of the Santee Dakota to this site, which resulted from their defeat in the Dakota War of 1862.