FHWA Home | Feedback

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe


Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is a federally recognized tribe located in both North and South Dakota. The Indian Reservation was established by the Congressional Act of March 2, 1889. The land base is approximately 850,000 acres.

The population of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is approximately 9,000 people according to the latest BIA labor force report. The reservation's economy today is based on cattle ranching accounting for three of every four dollars in the private sector of the economy. The Tribe recently has initiated casino gambling at two locations giving the Reservation needed revenue for its members. However, because of the limited economic base, over eighty percent (80%) of the total adult population is unemployed during winter months.

A Scanning Tour of the Reservation Transportation Infrastructure was conducted on September 8 and 9, 2003 respectively. The objectives of the tour was to gather information regarding the administration of the reservation transportation programs and take a first look of the conditions of the reservation roads system.

Back to the top

Transportation System

The reservation has approximately 200 miles on the BIA system and near 1,100 miles of county and state roads. In recent years, the tribe has been involved heavily in the improvement of the transportation infrastructure. The tribe main source of transportation funds comes from the IRR program (approximately $1.5 m/yr).

Due to recent court cases concerning the collection of State fuel taxes on reservations (in South Dakota) Standing Rock Sioux Tribe estimates an additional $500,000 in revenue. This issue is being negotiated between the State and South Dakota tribes. The roads department receives approximately $250,000 from gaming revenues.

Standing Rock is receiving $450,000, from BIA, for maintenance and $36,000 for transportation planning.

The tribe has a very small transit program. Recently most of the transit program is geared towards the tourism at the Casino near Fort Yates. Busses go to Bismarck twice a day to pick-up and drop-off visitors. The bus also goes to Mobridge, SD.

Back to the top

Program Administration

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has a transportation department, which is primarily run by the Transportation Planner. The Tribe just recently began to operate the roads program using P.L. 93-638. The tribe is using consultants for both design and construction monitoring services. In the past, the BIA Regional office was handling all aspects of the transportation program.

The Tribe contracts most of the construction and construction monitoring services through P.L. 93-638. Standing Rock and the BIA Great Plains region follow the AASTHO Standards for design and the Standard Specifications for Construction of Roads and bridges on Federal Highway Projects. FP-96.

The Tribe has a good safety program working with state and NHTSA. (Car safety seats, alcohol measures, etc). The Tribe declined a $20,000 grant from ND because the state required the tribe to waive its sovereignty

The tribe is also establishing a basic GIS platform to be used a tool to aid the standing Rock Sioux Tribe Transportation Dept. infrastructure inventories. Emergency facilities would be added to the system to facilitate rescue and prompt services to the communities. (e.g. fire and 911 services)

The tribe is improving 7 communities throughout the reservation as a part of an aggressive innovative financing method. The project is estimated to cost $27,000,000, which includes funding from several sources: the IRR funds, the tribe's funds though gambling revenues, and Joint Tribal Advisory Committee (JTAC) funds, which are from the U.S Department of Agriculture. These funds are to compensate the Tribe for lands that were flooded when the Missouri River dams were constructed.

The tribe plans to borrow the money though a local bank so work can begin now and with the future funds from these agencies the Tribe will be able to pay back the amount. The Work involves street improvements, sidewalk & driveways, street lighting, street names, and storm sewer.

Back to the top


There seems to be a good coordination with both the Counties and State governments, although, it is somewhat sporadic. South Dakota DOT has invited the tribes to participate in annual STIP meetings. North Dakota is trying to implement similar meetings.

The tribe does not have a long-range transportation plan (20 year). Due to insufficient amount of planning funds, the tribe works out of a 3-year TIP.

Back to the top

Cooperative projects

In FY 02, the Tribe though the SD DOT, applied for Public Lands Highway Discretionary Funds (PLH-D) funds. $4.0 million in PLH-D was awarded to SDDOT in FY 2002 for the Highway 63 project. Project development on this project has been a joint effort of SDDOT and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Using a 23 USC 132 agreement, through BIA, (which allows the State DOT to enter into project agreements with BIA) the Tribe did the archeological study and acquired ROW on trust land.

The Tribe has also received Transportation enhancement funds from the state for a pedestrian walkway in Fort Yates, ND.

Back to the top

Tribal Issues and Needs

Tribal representatives would like to be contacted prior to and present when the bridges are inspected. Also, they would prefer local firms do the inspections so they have better access to them when questions arise. The Tribe would like to 638 contract the bridge inspections and hire their own consultants to do the inspections and train tribal members. The ultimate goal is to have the tribe inspect their own bridges once they meet the requirements and are capable of taking over the inspection program.

The tribe expressed concern with the lack of National Highway Traffic safety Administration (NHTSA) funding available for tribes. NHTSA's program is about $1.2 million per year for all tribes nationwide. The tribe thinks that with this small amount available not much can be accomplished.

An issue the Tribe brought up was concerning the street improvements and self-esteem. Having nice streets, good sidewalks and paved driveways will enhance the appearance of the Tribal communities. The tribe thinks this will enhance pride in the community and better the lives of the residents. With these improvements it is hoped the community residents will take more initiative in maintaining and up grading their homes.

A major issue in South Dakota is the ongoing discussions with SDDOT concerning TERO. SDDOT has refused to sign new TERO agreements and is currently negotiating this issue with the tribes. The State is also negotiating the State fuel tax issue with the tribes.

Another issue that Standing Rock Sioux Tribe brought up was the lack of coordination between agencies. This specifically was discussed concerning the development of communities. There is very little consideration of transportation when the housing developments are designed. The houses are built and then the roads are built. This was observed when we visited one of the community street projects. There were no standard set back or house elevation standards. This makes building road system to serve the homes difficult. The tribe would like to see more consideration of the road system when these communities are developed.

Back to the top

To provide Feedback, Suggestions or Comments for this page contact Tim Penney at tim.penney@dot.gov.