2017-01-11 / Editorial

News for Indian ranchers and a helping hand at identifying old photos

There are few left alive that can remember when most reservation residents of Pine Ridge and the other South Dakota reservations lived on their own allotments.

They were given farming tools and one cow under a program known as Pradishares or Sioux Benefits. Back then everyone had wood burning stoves and they cut their own wood for winter and grew their own vegetable gardens in the summer. In other words everyone was pretty much self-sufficient. There was no welfare or commodities.

Farming did not seem to be in the blood of most Lakota, but they did thrive on raising cattle and they were great horsemen. It was not unusual for every family living on their own allotments to have a few head of cattle and at least one or two good milk cows.

There are still many Lakota families that still live on their family allotments and have cattle and horses. When we ran a few articles on ranching last year we received many positive comments from some of the Indian ranchers thanking us for not forgetting them. Well, beginning with this New Year we will not forget them, but we will not only continue to run articles geared for them, but we hope to expand that coverage.

These families are the last of the independent Lakota Indian cowboys. They drive their cattle to market and provide horses and riders for the local rodeos. In some of the small parades that take place on Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Cheyenne River, Standing Rock and other reservations you will see them in their finest rodeo or traditional clothes riding their horses in the parades.

As most of our readers know we run a small piece every week called “The Way it Was” and we publish photos of days gone by. Many of the photos come from the archives of our former Publisher Tim Giago who has been in the newspaper business for 36 years and has accumulated many photos over the years. What we are discovering is that when we run a photo of a high school class of the late 1930s or early 1940s and ask people to ID them most of the people familiar with the folks in the photos are no longer alive. One of our greatest sources was Rex Herman of Kyle but he has been in poor health and has not been able to help us as he did in the past.

Junior Blue Horse and “Charlie Boy” Pourier used to be quite good at recalling the names of the people from the old days, but both of them have since journeyed to the Spirit world. Frosty Garnette would be great because he has a great memory, but he is now 83 years old and lives out at Potato Creek on the old Garnette allotment and doesn’t get to town to pick up a copy of Native Sun News Today that often.

Many photographs of the Indian mission students of South Dakota are archived at Marquette University in Wisconsin. A Jesuit priest name Father Zimmerman from Holy Rosary traveled around the reservations taking photos of families for the sake of history in the 1930s and many of those photos are also at Marquette.

We will continue to publish news for the Indian ranchers and we will continue to publish photos of the days gone by in The Way it Was and we hope that anyone out there that can recall the names of some of the students in the photos we publish will give us a hand and help us ID them.

Our sports coverage by James Giago Davies is the best in Indian Country, but he is only one man and he will travel all over South Dakota in an effort to bring you the best in sports. So stay tuned in 2017.

(Contact the Editorial of Native Sun News Today at

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