Tribal Relations

In partnership with the state’s tribal governments, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) has worked to improve management, protection and conservation of shared tribal-state natural resources. South Dakota Department of Tribal Relations has also been a key partner in this effort.

With tribal land base encompassing approximately six million acres, it is paramount to continue partnerships with the nine tribal governments to foster improved wildlife habitat, as well as provide quality hunting and fishing opportunities for future generations.

Memorandums of Understanding (MOU)

To provide guidance and partnership on shared natural resources across the state, the state has engaged in Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with five tribes to date: Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Rosebud Sioux Tribe and Yankton Sioux Tribe. These MOU documents can be found at the bottom of this document.

The purpose of the MOU’s is to formalize cooperative efforts with the tribes regarding management of our shared natural resources in the state. Some of the wildlife management operations that the Tribes and GFP work together on include the following: sharing wildlife surveys and harvest information, developing hunting, fishing and trapping season recommendations, managing fishery resources, managing wildlife damage and providing law enforcement assistance when requested.

Elk and Deer Food Plots

Deer and elk food plots were established on the Iron Shell Flats area of the Rosebud Indian Reservation. This cooperative effort is designed to reduce depredation on nearby private lands and encourage elk and deer to utilize the new habitat created. Several food plots were planted with corn, sorghum, oats and alfalfa. GFP provided the seed and Rosebud contracted the planting. The food plots have been utilized heavily by wildlife and have reduced depredation in the area.

Wild Turkey Transplants

Wild turkeys were transplanted from the Black Hills area to the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation and Rosebud Reservation in 2016/17. This effort continues with plans to stock more turkeys in the future on Rosebud and Lower Brule Indian Reservations. Turkey hunting on these reservations provides significant opportunities to both tribal and non-tribal members.

Animal Damage Control Training

GFP hosted an Animal Damage Control training session, developed specifically for tribal staff, at the Outdoor Campus in Rapid City in 2016. Twenty-two individuals representing five South Dakota tribal natural resource departments attended the training session. Coyote depredation issues and illegal hunting cases on Oglala have also been brought to, and resolved, by the department. 

Chronic Wasting Disease Training

GFP provided Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) training in 2018 to several South Dakota Tribes which included Cheyenne River, Rosebud and Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe. So far no documented CWD cases have been found on South Dakota Tribal lands. Additional CWD training sessions are planned in the future for several other Tribes.

Boating Safety Training

GFP provided Boating Safety Training to approximately 16 individuals from Cheyenne River, Lower Brule, Standing Rock, Yankton and Rosebud Tribal Game and Fish Departments.

HuntSAFE Classes

GFP personnel and Tribal Law Enforcement staff provided several HuntSAFE classes to over forty youth participants at Standing Rock and Cheyenne River reservations. GFP provided equipment and supplies for the training. Plans are to expand HuntSAFE efforts with several other Tribes.

Law Enforcement Training

GFP has assisted with the annual Tribal Conservation Law Enforcement Training held by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society.  Each year 40-50 Tribal Conservation Officers attend this training, with approximately 20 officers coming from South Dakota reservations.

In 2016, GFP provided a training session focused on detection of trapping violations, with several tribal conservation officers and resource managers in attendance.

Cultural Resources

GFP works with staff and tribal staff to conduct cultural resource training and awareness sessions. Cultural resource training was provided at the 2019 statewide in-service training for GFP Conservation Officers and Park Rangers.  

Youth Events

GFP has assisted Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe with a Kid’s Fishing Derby on the Big Sioux River in the Flandreau City Park in 2016-18. During the event, GFP provides archery and BB gun equipment to provide shooting sports activities.

GFP staff assisted Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe with Earth Day presentations at Flandreau elementary and high schools in 2017-2019.

GFP is currently working with the Tribal Lands Youth Conservation Project on, and near, the Yankton Sioux Tribe.  The project focuses on teaching youth about our natural resources and training them with outdoor skills, such as fishing, hunting, trapping and wildlife viewing.  The department is supplying rods/reels, fishing tackle, BB guns, targets, shooting vests, shooting glasses and a critter crate supplied with skulls, hides, and wildlife ID guides to help the young people gain a greater appreciation for the natural resources we have in the state.