Three New Layers Added to Pine Ridge Land Information System

The Lakota Lands Recovery project is happy to announce the addition of three new layers to its Pine Ridge Land Information System. They are a layer with a three mile buffer around the major towns on Pine Ridge,  a layer of water quality data from wells tested by the USGS, and a map of the original ownership in the Badlands Bombing Range.  The Pine Ridge Land Information System (PRLIS) is a web-based land information system designed to assist members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe to access information about their lands and resources. The PRLIS was developed in partnership with the Oglala Sioux Tribe Land Office and made possible with support from the Indian Land Tenure Foundation. The new layers are part of the LLRP’s commitment to continually improving the PRLIS to be a resource for residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to assist them with land research and planning. Description of the three layers are below.

Badlands Bombing Range Ownership Map

This is layer with boundaries and original ownership of allotted lands located in the Badlands Bombing Range. Names of the original land owners are positioned inside each parcel when zoomed to a map scale of 1:54K  The following is an exert about the history of this land from a 2010 blog post on our site researched and written by Jamie Way.

“On July 20, 1942 the War Department advised the Commissioner of Indian Affairs that they would be taking over an area of 40×15 miles across the northern portion of the reservation. While a small portion of this land lay within what was then Badlands National Monument (337 acres), the vast majority of the land was located within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation ( The dispossession would impact some 125 Oglala families.  And while the dispossessed families were to be supplied with some relocation compensation, assistance and supplies, actual accounts vary as to how much the families received if any at all.

The displacement was messy and created a major crisis on the reservation. While officially, the families would have had 40 days to leave if they were given notice on the same day as the Bureau of Indian affairs (which seems not to be the case most of the time), most believed that they needed to evacuate almost immediately. In fact, archival data reveals that Mr. McDowell, an employee of the land acquisition division of the War Department, had stated that the War Department was taking  possession of the land and shooting was to start on August 1st (Roberts 7/7/42). This is even more shocking when you take into account that the Commissioner of Indian Affairs was given that they were to have well under two weeks (approximately ten days) to evacuate their land.

The new layer lists the names of the original owners of the different parcels in Badlands Bombing Range.

Until 1958, the land was utilized for bombing and gunnery practice by what was then the Army Air Force. Even past this date, the South Dakota National Guard retained a small portion of the land for training purposes. When they left, the land’s future was far from resolved. Moreover, they left behind them dangerous ordnance and never fully lived up to their responsibility of cleaning the land. To this day, unexploded ordnance can be found on the site.s only officially notified of the dispossession twelve days prior. Myrtle Gross, who was displaced during the event, reported that “the Farmer Office” sent a man to tell her to “[g]et out now because the Japs aren’t going to wait!” She said they were then given 30 days to leave, (Archives Search Report 1999, Interview 5).  Similarly, Ida Bullman recalls finding out about the evacuation after reading a poster that was displayed at the local store. The store owner told her, “Pack up and leave. They’re going to start shooting at you.” Thus, by the time the information reached the population the impression was given that they were to have well under two weeks (approximately ten days) to evacuate their land.

Until 1958, the land was utilized for bombing and gunnery practice by what was then the Army Air Force. Even past this date, the South Dakota National Guard retained a small portion of the land for training purposes. When they left, the land’s future was far from resolved. Moreover, they left behind them dangerous ordnance and never fully lived up to their responsibility of cleaning the land. To this day, unexploded ordnance can be found on the site.

Due to many families’ attachment to the land, Ellen Janis represented her neighbors’ interests and fought for reparations or the return of their land in a series of trips to D.C. to see public officials. During this time, Congressman Francis Case, who had lobbied for the bombing range, acknowledged that the evacuation had created an incredibly difficult situation for many of his constituents, admitting that “[t]he injustice that was done to the people of Pine Ridge is almost beyond comprehension” (Francis Case as represented in Nichols 1960). In 1968, Public Law 90-468 was finally passed, and lands declared excess by the Air Force were to be transferred to the Department of Interior. The law afforded those displaced (whether their land was held in trust or in fee) the possibility of repurchasing the land that had been taken from them if they filed an application with the Secretary of Interior to purchase the tract. This application needed to be filed within a one year window from the date a notice was published in the Federal Register that the tract had been transferred to the jurisdiction of the Secretary. Needless to say, the displaced were not properly notified of this option in many cases, in part due to their geographical dispersion. The law also stated that the original inhabitants that wished to repurchase their land were to pay the price the U.S. government had paid for the land, plus interest. Thus, those that decided to repurchase their land explained that they paid much higher prices for the land than they had originally been paid for it when the government confiscated it.”

Water Quality Data from Wells Tested by the USGS between 1992-1997

This layer uses water quality and well location data from a report published in 2000 by the USGS. According to the USGS:

“Discharge and water-quality data were collected during 1992-97 for 14 contact springs located in the northwestern part of the Reservation. Data were collected to evaluate potential alternative sources of water supply for the village of Red Shirt, which currently obtains water of marginal quality from a well completed in the Inyan Kara aquifer. During 1995-97, water-quality data also were collected for 44 public-supply wells that serve about one-half of the Reservation’s population. Quality-assurance sampling was used to evaluate the precision and accuracy of environmental samples.”

The layer positions an icon at the approximate location of each well tested in this study. Water quality data can be viewed for each well by clicking on the icon which will bring up a table with the Well ID Number used in the reportWell Location, Date it was Tested, Depth of the Well, Type of Water Source (well or spring) and the recorded levels of Uranium, Ecoli, All Bacteria, Arsenic, and the Contaminant of Concern for each well.

Clicking on the well opens a data table with information on the well and and the results of the USGS testing.

Below is a summary of the results from this testing from the USGS.

“Of the 44 public-supply wells sampled, 42 are completed in the Arikaree aquifer, one is completed in an alluvial aquifer, and one is completed in the Inyan Kara aquifer. Water from the alluvial well is a sodium bicarbonate water type, water from Arikaree aquifer ranges from calcium bicarbonate to sodium bicarbonate types, and water from the Inyan Kara well is a calcium sulfate bicarbonate type. Of the 44 wells sampled, 28 (64 percent) tested positive for indicator bacteria in presumptive tests. Because these were single samples that generally were collected upstream from chemical treatment feeders, positive detections do not necessarily constitute exceedances of drinking-water standards.

A single sample from an Arikaree well exceeded the MCL for arsenic of 50 µg/L. Arsenic exceeded 10 µg/L for six additional Arikaree wells and for the alluvial well and the Inyan Kara well, which could be problematic if the current MCL is lowered. The alluvial well also exceeded the secondary maximum contaminant level (SMCL) for dissolved solids, which is non-enforceable, and the action level for lead. The Inyan Kara well exceeded the SMCL’s for iron and for manganese and the MCL of 5 pCi/L for radium-226 and 228 combined. Several Arikaree wells exceeded SMCL’s for either pH, sulfate, dissolved solids, iron, or manganese. One Arikaree well exceeded the MCL of 4.0 mg/L for fluoride and another exceeded the MCL of 10 mg/L for nitrite plus nitrate.

Ten Arikaree wells equalled or exceeded 15 pCi/L for gross alpha; however, these values do not necessarily constitute exceedances of the MCL, which excludes radioactivity contributed by uranium and radon. Additional sampling using different analysis techniques would be needed to conclusively determine if any samples exceeded this MCL.

Eight wells, all from the Arikaree aquifer, equalled or exceeded the proposed MCL of 20 µg/L for uranium and 33 wells (75 percent) equalled or exceeded one-half of the proposed MCL. Although this standard has only been proposed, additional information regarding the extent of elevated uranium concentrations in the Arikaree aquifer, and the geochemical processes involved, may be beneficial. It was determined from analyses of uranium isotope data for five wells that the source of elevated uranium concentrations is naturally occurring, rather than anthropogenic.”

 3-Mile Growth Buffer Around the Major Towns on the Reservation

Layer with 3-mile buffer around the major villages on Pine Ridge. Used for determining the availability of Tribal lands for consolidation.

This layer displays a green 3-mile buffer around the center point of each of the largest towns on the Pine Ridge Reservation. This layer is important for people interested in exchanging their undivided lands for a contiguous tract of tribal lands, a opportunity made possible by Oglala Sioux Tribe Resolution 77-11.  Tribal Ordinance 85-17 lists the criteria for “set-asides” which include:

  1. Lands surrounding the townsite of Pine Ridge and the established villages within a radius of 3 miles of such settlements.
  2. Commercial and industrial areas
  3. Park and Recreation Areas
  4. Historical and Religious Sites
  5. Archaeological Sites
  6. Potential tourist attractions sites
  7. Timber reserve lands
  8. Class 1 & 2 farmlands
  9. Large consolidated tracts.

To view this layer turn it on by clicking on the “check-box” in the layers menu at the left-hand side of the screen. The layer only appears at the 1:55K map scale so you’ll need to zoom in from the default map scale. You can adjust it’s transparency by clicking on the layer’s label and adjusting the “transparency slider control.”

The Pine Ridge Land Information System can be accessed at

For more information about these layers or to suggest other layers to add to the PRLIS, please contact David Bartecchi or 970-237-3002 Ext. 504

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