kids encyclopedia robot

Crow Creek Indian Reservation facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Crow Creek Indian Reservation
Flag of Crow Creek Indian Reservation
Location of Crow Creek Indian Reservation, South Dakota
Location of Crow Creek Indian Reservation, South Dakota
Country United States
State South Dakota
Counties Buffalo / Hughes / Hyde
 • Total 196.235 sq mi (508.248 km2)
 • Total 1,230
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
Website South Dakota Tribal Government Relations: Crow Creek Sioux Tribe

The Crow Creek Indian Reservation (Dakota: Khąǧí wakpá okášpe, Lakota: Kȟaŋğí Wakpá Oyáŋke), home to Crow Creek Sioux Tribe (Dakota: Khąǧí wakpá oyáte) 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 federally recognized 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 ofkf 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.

Tribal information

  • Reservation: Crow Creek Reservation; Buffalo, Hyde, and Hughes counties
  • Division: Santee, Yankton
  • Bands: Mdewakanton (People of Spirit Lake), Ihanktonwan (People of the End)
  • Land Area: 125,591 acres (508.25 km2)
  • Tribal Headquarters: Fort Thompson, SD
  • Time Zone: Central
  • Traditional Language: Dakota
  • Enrolled members living on reservation: 1,230
  • Major industry: Agriculture


  • Election of all six council members and the Chair are held every two years on the third Tuesday in April. The Chairman is elected at large by all districts. Tribal Council elects from within a Vice-Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary.
  • If terms of office are staggered: No
  • Number of Election districts or communities: 3

Notable tribal members

  • Oscar Howe (1915–1983), Yanktonai, modernist painter. Howe was born and grew up on the Crow Creek Reservation. He received many honors, including being chosen as Artist Laureate of South Dakota. More than 20 Oscar Howe originals are on display at the Oscar Howe Art Center in Mitchell, South Dakota. One of his works was adapted as a tapestry that hangs behind the altar at the chapel at St. Joseph's Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota.
  • Elizabeth Cook-Lynn taught Native American Studies for 20 years before becoming a full-time writer. She is the author of two novels and a collection of short stories. She edits the Wicazo Sa (Red Pencil) Review, an international Native American studies journal. She is also a traditional dancer on the powwow circuit. Cook-Lynn grew up on the Crow Creek Reservation.
  • Shawn Hawk, world-rated professional boxer, has some roots at Crow Creek.
  • Vernon Ashley was the oldest member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe at his death at age 99 in November 2015; he had been inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame in 1991. He had extensive knowledge of Native American laws and treaties, as well as the Dakota Sioux language. Ashley helped in developing the 1948 constitution and by-laws (red book), which the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe has used since it established elected government. In his state position, he worked on leadership and training for tribal councils.
kids search engine
Crow Creek Indian Reservation Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.