South Dakota is a pretty big state. At over 77,000 square miles it ranks as the 16th largest state in the U.S., just behind Nebraska. However, a large part of the land in the state belongs to Native American tribes and communities.

There are 326 Indian Reservations in the U.S. Nine of these are found in South Dakota, comprising a large swath of land in many different parts of the state.

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Credit: Canva
Credit: Canva

According to the latest census, conservative estimates place the number of South Dakotans identifying as Native American at around 68,000, or 8.57 percent of the state's population. South Dakota ranks only behind Alaska, Oklahoma, and New Mexico in that regard.

South Dakota is also fourth in terms of percentage of tribal land. Only Arizona, Utah, and Montana have more. In fact, around 12 percent of all of South Dakota is considered tribal land.

There are 9 tribes that live in the state's borders:

These nine tribes are the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and the Yankton Sioux Tribe. Each tribe has been living in South Dakota for centuries, learning from the land and passing down their knowledge.

-Travel Intrepid Website

Unfortunately, as of 2022, South Dakota had the highest Native American Poverty Rate in the entire U.S., with 49% of the population living below the poverty line.

To learn more about the nine Native American tribes within South Dakota, check out the article from Travel Intrepid, here.

Story Sources: South Dakota Tribal Relations Website, State Symbols USA Website, Travel Intrepid Website

Dives Worth a Drive in South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota

Almost every small South Dakota town has a watering hole. It’s where the locals go to kick back a few brews and engage in conversation.

Some of these establishments are located in buildings almost as old as the town itself. There might be a fresh coat of paint on the walls or new vinyl on the booth seats, but the ambiance is still reminiscent of a good ol’ dive.

If you think a "dive" is all about the sketchy clientele, the smell of the Devil’s lettuce, and stale Grain Belt, you’d be wrong. Not every dive has a bad reputation.

What makes a dive, a dive?

A dive has character. Neon beer signs and local memorabilia adorn the walls.

You might find a pool table, dart board, and a few video lottery machines.

The bartender knows the regulars by name and they know what you drink.

Some dives don't even serve food except for bags of chips and pickled eggs that sit in a jar of brine on the bar.

Dives aren't fancy. You might see 70's-style wood panels on the walls and wobbly tables leveled with a folded napkin.

Finally, the bathrooms. The bathrooms in dives are in a class by themselves and could be a whole topic on its own. 

There are several small-town dives in our area with friendly faces, cheap booze with a burn, and even really good food! We use the term "dive" in the most affectionate way.

Here are some of the best and why you should go there.

Gallery Credit: Karla Brown

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