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For millenia, the ancestral homelands of the Oceti Sakowin or Lakota — the proper names for the people commonly known as the Sioux — spread across an area equivalent to 159 million acres. The territory included present day North and South Dakota, stretching into parts of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana.
After enduring the plights of colonial-settlerism, broken treaties, acts of genocide and mass disposition of land, the Oceti Sakowin ultimately were forced onto reservations specifically identified as resource-barren and unfit for farming or homesteading. They now steward a small fraction of what was originally theirs — 2 percent, or 3.2 million acres.
Today, tribal leader Lyle Jack, an Oglala Lakota Sioux member born and raised on the Pine Ridge reservation, laughs. “Little did they know that they would stick us in some of the windiest places on earth,” Jack muses.
It’s true: Present-day tribal lands in South Dakota are home to some of the best onshore wind resources in North America, positioning Jack and his people to become leaders in our collective effort to build a clean energy future.