Why They Rebel, Part II
Flag of the Pine Ridge Reservation
Twelve thousand Sioux live on the reservation. Sixty percent are unemployed and only nine percent of the homes has electricity. A few people are living in chicken coops and in the shells of abandoned cars. The rest live in one- and two-room tar-papered shacks. Occasionally someone freezes to death. The Federal Trade Commission’s latest study shows that prices at the trading post are twenty-seven percent higher than the national average.
The infant mortality rate is four times the national average and life expectancy is only forty-four and a half years. The suicide rate is five times the national average and Sioux teenagers are killing themselves at fifteen times the rate of their counterparts in the rest of the country.
While the land is parceled out to individual Sioux, they do not actually own it. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) holds it in trust for them. The BIA, instead of serving the Sioux, helps local white ranchers buy and lease land for their own profit.
The reservation is like a ghetto on the plains.
Bill Zimmerman, Airlift to Wounded Knee, 60-63