A History of Hardship

The Hunkpati Oyate are the Dakota people of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, survivors of many past atrocities and historical traumas. In 1863, John P. Williamson gave this account of the Hunkpati Oyate’s forced exile from their Minnesota homeland and internment on the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. “As they look on their native hills for the last time, a dark cloud is crushing their hearts.” He further recollected that upon arrival at Crow Creek, “So were the hills soon covered with graves. The very memory of Crow Creek became horrible to the Dakotas, who still hush their voice at the mention of the name.” This marked the beginning of great suffering on the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation.

On September 9th, 1862 Minnesota Governor Ramsey famously declared the Sioux Indians of Minnesota must be exterminated or driven forever beyond the borders of the state.

The ensuing decades brought historical injustices, hardships, broken treaties, and unmet promises. These depravations wreaked havoc upon families that had already suffered so many injustices. The youth, those most vulnerable, suffered the most. Despite the strength, durability and courage of the Dakota, the situation grew increasingly dire.

The South Dakota Department of Health declared that the suicide rate in South Dakota set a record high in 2017. The 2020 report found that the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation had a suicide rate 4.4 times greater than the State of South Dakota and 5.4 times the rate of the United States as a whole! These stark statistics indicate the breadth of despair many youth and families of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe endure today.

Currently on the Crow Creek Sioux reservation, the poverty rate is 39.8% and the annual per capita income is just $11,995.00.