Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Geography & Geographic Information Science
Gathering arid preserving wild fruits and vegetables for food and medicine, especially from the wooded bottomlands, was a traditional part of the Lakota culture. Plant use among the Lakota has been greatly reduced and in some cases, completely eliminated by the damming of the Missouri River by Oahe Dam. This dam, which forced the Lakota of Standing Rock Reservation to give up their homes in the bottomlands in violation of their treaty rights of 1868 had a considerable impact on the biogeography of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, in January I960, almost 200 Indian families were evacuated from their homes adjacent to the Missouri River and relocated in new homes to pursue new lifestyles on the remaining marginal prairies of their reservation.
In Missouri River Basin Investigation (MRBI) report 138, timber, game, and wild plants were stated as resources basic to survival of the Indians of Standing Rock Reservation. The report also stated that by destroying these resources the Indians would be forced to become more dependent on welfare or on a wage-earning income.
After interviewing several Lakota elders, I concluded that the distribution of at least twenty-six plants has been reduced or eliminated from Standing Rock Reservation due to the flooding of the bottomlands. It was also concluded that the loss of knowledge of wild plant usage among these people has resulted in an aspect of Lakota culture rapidly being diminished. This proved to be true when all of the elders interviewed could not remember most of the plants that were utilized by their parents or grandparents. They directly attributed this to the lack of availability because of the Oahe Reservoir.
Loss of plants as food and medicinal sources and timber for fuel because of the construction of the Oahe Dam created a socio-economic setback for the Lakota. They could no longer rely on these once widely abundant resources. Therefore, the Lakota were forced to become less dependent on a subsistence based directly on natural resources and more dependent on a wage-earning economy off the reservation or to welfare.
Kraft, Shelly Katherene, "Recent Changes in the Ethnobotany of Standing Rock Indian Reservation" (1990). Theses and Dissertations. 812.