St. Francis, it's such an amazing little town in South Dakota. I encourage you to read up about the Lakota people who live on this great Reservation. They have been impacted by so much! U.S. government encroachment upon their territory occurred in the 1800s. The Lakota were originally Woodlands people, like the Ojibwe today, however as the U.S. pushed Native people westward, tribes like the Lakota were forced westward as well and had to adapt their woodland culture into one of the plains. They hunted buffalo and used every piece of it for their lifestyle. They ate the meat, used the hides for clothing and shelter, the bones and horns for tools and utensils. They were very adaptable people. Because they depended upon the Buffalo for their livelihood, they traveled around and did not have a stagnant piece of land where they lived, but brought their homes with them.
Originally there were over 70 million buffalo in the plains. As the US moved westward, they found it difficult to subdue the plains tribes like they had with some of their eastern neighbors and this was because of their ability to move around. The way that the US achieved this was through the extermination of the tribe's source of living, the buffalo. Within a very short span of time, the government was able to decrease the population from 70 million to only about 250 buffalo total...yes, 200. Without this source, the tribes were forced to settle in one location and the government was able to force them to live on reservations in the Dakotas.
In addition to this, the US government effectively dissolved tribal government among the Lakota, ruined their economic system and made them dependent upon government handouts, this was not a choice of their own.
But perhaps the worst single event for these peoples was the massacre at wounded knee. The US government feared a new religious movement of the Ghost Dance, which was a passificst movement by the way, and the calvary surrounded an entire Lakota community and shot at them. The Lakota did not have weapons. If you read any of the letters and first hand accounts of the soldiers, you will read that they used babies as target practice and stole goods from many of the dead bodies and took them to museums. Many of the museums today still carry the artifacts with the blood stains still on them, yet rarely do they mention where the stain came from.
One of our goals in this community is to help fulfil God's great commission by illuminating the hope and promise of God's redemption. There is so much darkness in these communities today, hopelessness and terror plague the towns on the reservations and leaders are at a loss at what to do to alleviate this. Hopefully, our work will bear fruit for our Lord and bring hope and self-determination into these communities again.