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Demographics - Topography & Climate and Population

Land Status & Base | Topography, Climate, Population |
Transportation & Natural Resources | Economy & Infrastructure

Topography and Climate

Most of the Standing Rock Reservation is comprised of rolling hills, eroded outcropping areas “badlands,” and vast grasslands. The soil along the Missouri and Grand Rivers varies from sandy soil along the bottomlands along the river to heavy gumbo in the higher elevations. The lands that are used for farming are irrigated with Missouri River water, or through a minimal annual rainfall of 16–17 inches. Cattle ranching and grazing is generally reserved for higher elevations. The vegetation on the prairies is comprised of short grasses, and ravines are filled with shrub trees. Cottonwood trees once lined the river bottomlands, the remnants of which can still be seen.

Lake Oahe at Fort Yates
Lake Oahe at Fort Yates, 2006. This photo shows a low water level in
Lake Oahe at Fort Yates during the drought of 2006.


The Standing Rock Reservation has about 13,893 enrolled members. According to 2000 U.S. Census, the Standing Rock Reservation (North Dakota side only) has a population of 4,044. The lack of jobs on the reservation is one of the major reasons why tribal members leave the reservation.

2000 Census Data Standing Rock Enrollment Office Data
Population—Standing Rock Reservation
Total Resident Population
Enrolled Members

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, North Dakota counties that include Indian reservations are among the few areas of the state to experience population increases. Normally, the age distribution of a population is important when determining the labor supply in the area. Age distributions do not change significantly in the short-term unless there has been a large population change in the area. With the growth of economic activity generated by the establishment of casinos and other facilities associated with the industry, population statistics are likely to increase.

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