History and Culture

Our Roots

History of Oceti Sakowin

Located in what is now known as South Central South Dakota, the Rosebud Indian Reservation is home to approximately 27,000 members of the Sicangu Lakota Oyate (“Burnt Thigh Nation”), also known as the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. As one of seven Lakota tribes, which in turn collectively form one of the seven council fires of the Great Sioux Nation (Očéti Šakówiŋ), the Sicangu Oyate have a proud history stretching back since time immemorial.


Lakota tribes have inhabited the Black Hills and surrounding plains for more than 2,000 years. The Lakota are best known as kind relatives, expert buffalo hunters, and fierce defenders of freedom and land.  Incorporation of the horse and modern warfare technology into Lakota culture, guided by strong values of bravery, fortitude, generosity, respect, compassion, and wisdom, allowed the Lakota to become the dominant economic and military force in the Great Plains.


Treaty of Fort Laramie

The Sicangu worked with other Lakota bands to resist the westward expansion of the United States government, forcing the signing of two peace treaties that together established the boundaries the Great Sioux Reservation. The Great Sioux Reservation was established in 1868 by the Treaty of Fort Laramie and encompassed South Dakota, northern parts of Nebraska and eastern Montana.



Broken Treaties

These treaties were broken soon thereafter by the United States, resulting in the “Indian Wars” of the 1870s.


The decimation of vast buffalo herds in the Great Plains, which the Sicangu relied upon for food, shelter, clothing, spiritual items, and primary trade currency, resulted in a decimation of the Lakota buffalo-based economy, and they were unable to mount a sustained resistance. Ultimately the Sicangu, along with the other Lakota tribes, were forced onto their present-day reservations and the Rosebud Reservation was established in 1889. Further theft of prime farming and ranching lands, forced attendance at educationally subpar boarding schools designed to “kill the Indian to save the man,” and over-regulation by the federal government has stifled economic development for generations, resulting in persistent poverty and other socioeconomic challenges.


Creation of REDCO

In 1999, the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Government stepped forward to begin reclaiming their right to economic self-determination by establishing REDCO.  Designed to as the economic arm of the Tribe, REDCO’s purpose is to generate revenue and create economic opportunity for the Sicangu Lakota Oyate and surrounding communities.