Cultural Capital: Oglala Lakota County, South Dakota

In my opinion, the culture of a community says it all. And as we learned from class, there is a lot more to culture than the clothes, food, and celebrations of community, as important as those things are. There’s also the unconscious rules that come along with culture that no one really thinks about because they are just so innate to the community. The Oglala Lakota County is rich with culture. It is home to a lot of known artists, including Arthur Amiotte, Keith Braveheart, and Ina Mae Espinosa, who were all born on the Pine Ridge Reservation in Oglala County (blackhills knowledge network). It is also one of the only prohibition, or dry, counties in the United States. The college in the community, known as the Oglala Lakota College, hosts a summer artists series where Native American artists can showcase their talents. It is sponsored by South Dakota Arts Council, the South Dakota Department of Tourism and State Development, and the National Endowment for the Arts and the hope is to keep the culture of Native American Tribes thriving and to educate the rest of the United States on this important aspect to a whole community’s life (blackhills knowledge network).


Another huge cultural achievement for the Oglala Lakota people was taking back their name. The county used to be called Shannon County, but thanks to the Lakota Law Project, in November of 2014 the name of the county was changes to Oglala Lakota, returning the culture and arts back into their community (Lakota Law Project Report). Peter Shannon, who the county was originally named after, was a big advocate for taking the land out of the hands of the natives, thus destroying and culture, spoken or unspoken, that would go with them (Lakota Law Project Report). The victory of the Lakota Tribe in taking back their land and taking back their name was a huge step in the right direction, but unfortunately, there is a lot more to be done.



@. (2014). Oglala Lakota County to replace Shannon County. Retrieved October 01, 2016, from
Ross, D. (n.d.). Oglala Lakota County – Civic Life & History. Retrieved October 01, 2016, from