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Shannon County: Distinct History


PIERRE, S.D. – Shannon County, located along the state’s southern border, has the highest Native American population of any county in the United States. Kyle, Pine Ridge and Wounded Knee are some of the communities you’ll find here.

A portion of Badlands National Park is located within Shannon County. The park, which preserves nearly 250,000 acres of colorful wonders of geology, also boasts the largest protected mixed grass prairie in the United States. Badlands National Park also contains the world's richest Oligocene epoch fossil beds, dating 23 to 35 million years old.

Shannon County is also one of only five counties in South Dakota to be located entirely on an Indian reservation. This county is also unique in that it has no county seat—neighboring Fall River County serves as the administrative center for this locale.

Take a visit to Pine Ridge and discover the Heritage Center of Red Cloud Indian School, a museum that features a vast collection of Native American fine arts and Lakota tribal arts. The museum’s fine arts collection consists of more than 2,000 paintings, drawings and sculptures that represent a large number of Native American tribal traditions.

Wounded Knee, named for the creek that runs through the region, holds great historical significance as the sight of the infamous Wounded Knee Massacre, the last major armed conflict between soldiers and Native Americans. Wall’s Wounded Knee Memorial Museum in neighboring Pennington County provides visitors with an understanding of the events of December 29, 1890.

The Uniquely South Dakota series is a project of the South Dakota Office of Tourism designed to highlight unique aspects and attractions in each of South Dakota’s 66 counties. This profile was researched and compiled by Jennifer Anderson, public relations intern for the Office of Tourism.


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