Unveiling the Struggles of America’s Poorest Native Tribe

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Unveiling the Struggles of America's Poorest Native Tribe

When was the last time you thought about the poverty-stricken Native American communities in the US? For most of us, it’s not a topic that falls under our radar often enough. But did you know that America’s poorest tribe has a poverty rate of over 85%? This means that they make less than $12,000 annually. That’s less than minimum wage for a full-time job!

The Pine Ridge Reservation, located in South Dakota, is home to the Oglala Lakota Nation. Their living conditions are comparable to those found in third-world countries. Families live in overcrowded houses without running water, heating, or proper plumbing. Many children go to sleep hungry, and health problems are rampant due to unsanitary living conditions.

Despite being situated on land that is rich in natural resources like coal, oil, and uranium, the Oglala Lakota Nation sees little to no profit from these resources. They have also been repeatedly taken advantage of and cheated out of land and resource rights by the US government and private companies. It’s a heartbreaking situation that deserves our attention and compassion.

If you want to learn more about the struggles of America’s poorest Native tribe and how we can help, read on.

Poorest Native American Tribe
“Poorest Native American Tribe” ~ bbaz

Unveiling the Struggles of America’s Poorest Native Tribe


The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota is home to the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the poorest Native American tribe in the United States. The median household income on the reservation is only $8,768, and unemployment rates hover around 80%. Despite the dire circumstances, many outsiders are unaware of the struggles faced by this community. In this article, we will delve into the many challenges that the Oglala Sioux face, and compare their situation to that of other Native American tribes.


Access to quality education is a significant issue on the Pine Ridge Reservation. According to the Department of Education, only 48% of students graduate from high school, compared to a national average of 82%. The reservation has only one full-time public school, which serves nearly 3,500 students across multiple grade levels. Limited access to technology and extracurricular activities also hinders educational opportunities for students.

Comparison: Access to Education

Tribe High School Graduation Rate Number of Public Schools
Oglala Sioux 48% 1
Navajo Nation 57% 69
Cherokee Nation 74% 131

The comparison highlights how the Oglala Sioux Tribe faces significantly more barriers than other tribes when it comes to providing accessible and quality education to community members.

Health Care

The Oglala Sioux have limited access to healthcare, with only one hospital and four satellite clinics serving the entire reservation population. The Indian Health Service (IHS) provides healthcare services to Native Americans, but underfunding and understaffing of clinics often result in delays and inadequate treatment. As a result, the Oglala Sioux endure high death rates due to preventable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and tuberculosis.

Comparison: Access to Healthcare

Tribe Number of Hospitals Number of IHS Facilities
Oglala Sioux 1 4
Navajo Nation 7 45
Cherokee Nation 8 14

The comparison shows how the Oglala Sioux have way fewer healthcare facilities than other tribes, making it difficult for them to get proper medical attention.


The jobless rate on the Pine Ridge Reservation is estimated to be around 80%, compared with a national average of approximately 6%. A significant element contributing to unemployment is the scarcity of job opportunities in the area. A lack of industry and resources often compels people to leave the reservation in search of jobs.

Comparison: Employment

Tribe Employment Rate Number of Jobs Available
Oglala Sioux 20% Limited
Navajo Nation 49% 6000
Cherokee Nation 64% 30,000

The table shows how other tribes have better employment rates and more job opportunities available than the Oglala Sioux.


The comparison reveals how the Oglala Sioux Tribe faces considerable inequalities compared to other Native American tribes. Addressing these disparities requires commensurate commitment and investment to ensure that everyone, regardless of race or income, has the chance to succeed in the United States.


Learning about the struggles and inequalities faced by the Oglala Sioux Tribe was eye-opening. The comparison of their situation to that of other Native American tribes highlighted the significant lack of access to education, healthcare, and employment opportunities they experience. More needs to be done to address these issues to provide a fair and equal quality of life to all citizens.

Dear valued readers,

Thank you for taking the time to read our blog post on the struggles of America’s poorest Native tribe. It is our hope that this article has shed some light on the ongoing challenges that these communities face on a daily basis.

We understand that there is much more to be done in order to improve the living conditions, healthcare, and economic opportunities of these tribes. We encourage you to stay informed and get involved in any way possible, whether it be through donating to reputable organizations, volunteering your time and skills, or simply spreading awareness about the issues.

Once again, thank you for your interest and support. Let us continue to work together towards positive change for all communities, including those who are most vulnerable and in need.

Here are some commonly asked questions about Unveiling the Struggles of America’s Poorest Native Tribe:

  1. Who are America’s poorest Native tribe?

    The Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe, also known as the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, is considered to be America’s poorest Native tribe.

  2. What struggles do the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe face?

    The Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe faces a multitude of struggles, including poverty, high unemployment rates, substance abuse, inadequate housing, and limited access to healthcare and education.

  3. What is the history of the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe?

    The Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe is part of the larger Sioux Nation, which historically inhabited the Great Plains region of North America. The tribe was forced onto the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the late 1800s after years of conflict with white settlers and the US government.

  4. What can be done to help the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe?

    There are many organizations and initiatives working to support the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe, including those focused on providing healthcare, education, job training, and housing. Donating to these organizations or volunteering time and resources can make a positive impact.

  5. How can I learn more about the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe?

    There are many resources available for learning about the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe, including books, documentaries, and websites. Visiting the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and speaking with members of the tribe can also provide valuable insight and understanding.

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