Oglala Sioux Tribe Poised To Take Control Of First Tribal National Park

Earlier this month we brought you the depressing story of how Anheuser-Busch is helping to destroy the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota. Now I am happy to bring you some good news about the community.

The South Unit of the Badlands National Park, which is entirely within the Pine Ridge Reservation, could soon become the first ever tribally run National Park in the country.

The Park Service and the Tribe have “worked together” to manage the South Unit’s 133,000 acres for almost 40 years. If a tribal national park is enabled by Congress through legislation, the Oglala Sioux people could manage and operate their lands.

“Our National Park System is one of America’s greatest story tellers,” Secretary Salazar said in a prepared statement. “As we seek to tell a more inclusive story of America, a tribal national park would help celebrate and honor the history and culture of the Oglala Sioux people. Working closely with the Tribe, Congress, and the public, the Park Service will work to develop a legislative proposal to make the South Unit a tribal national park.”

The sentiments are nice, but how did this situation evolve?

Another Shameful Story Of The Treatment Of Native Americans

From National Parks Traveler:

The South Unit of Badlands National Park is an oddity, having been born of an administrative decision that incorporated a large tract of Indian-owned land into a national park in a rather heavy-handed manner. A gunnery and bombing range was established on OST land in 1942 shortly after America entered World War II. When the range was declared excess and closed in the 1960s, it was returned to the Oglala Sioux in the form of a government-held trust, and with the provision that it be part of the expanded Badlands National Monument.

Two years later, it became Badlands National Park, but  the Oglala Sioux Tribe still had little say in the management of the land.

Better Days Ahead?

The agreement being worked on now keeps the Badlands National Park intact–but gives the tribe the full authority to manage its portion of the park and to also reap the benefits of visitor traffic and new jobs. And that could be a huge benefit.

The irony of the Oglala Sioux being “allowed” to take control of their own land should not be lost. But at least maybe this action could set a precedent for other tribes around the country. Let’s hope so.

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Photo Credit: miss_distance

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Dennis Warren

Changleska Wakan Apichiyapi. Mitakuye Oyasin.

Suzanne L.
SuzanneAWAY L.3 years ago

This may be part of a rebalancing where Native Americans can regain some control over ancestral areas.

Susan Baker
Susan Baker3 years ago

Great news. It is time for the American Indians to get back their tribal lands and be allowed to live in peace and harmony with nature as only they can. Hopefully the white population will respect this and not go killing everything that moves on Indian land but don't hold your breath the white hunters can be thoughtless. I am ashamed of the way my people have treated the American Indians and got away with it.

Cynthia Blais
cynthia B.3 years ago

yess this is long over due. Native Americans have respect and reverance for Mother Earth

Kate M.
K H.3 years ago

Great news! Now the government just needs to work on giving other American Indian lands back to them, such as the Black Hills. I mean for real--the U.S. government failed to uphold their end of the Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1868, and they STILL haven't owned up to it almost 150 years later? That's reprehensible and embarrassing. How are we U.S. citizens ever supposed to take pride in our government when they have been selectively treating people like garbage ever since the U.S. was founded? And for dumbass, bigoted reasons, no less?

Fran F.
Fran F.3 years ago

Great news! I look forward to going there!

Matt L.3 years ago


Dianne Lane
Dianne Lane3 years ago


Dianne Lane
Dianne Lane3 years ago


Dianne Lane
Dianne Lane3 years ago