Shannon County, South Dakota

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For other uses, see Shannon (disambiguation).
Shannon County, South Dakota
Map of South Dakota highlighting Shannon County
Location in the state of South Dakota
Map of the United States highlighting South Dakota
South Dakota's location in the U.S.
Named for Peter C. Shannon
Seat none
Largest community Pine Ridge
 • Total 2,097 sq mi (5,430 km2)
 • Land 2,094 sq mi (5,423 km2)
 • Water 2.8 sq mi (7 km2), 0.13%
 • (2010) 13,586
 • Density 5/sq mi (2/km²)
Congressional district At-large
Time zone Mountain: UTC-7/-6
Footnotes: Hot Springs in neighboring Fall River County serves as its administrative center

Shannon County is a county located in the U.S. state of South Dakota. The population was 13,586 at the 2010 census.[1] Shannon County does not have its own county seat. Instead, Hot Springs in neighboring Fall River County serves as its administrative center.[2] Its largest community is Pine Ridge. The county is named for Peter Shannon, Chief Justice of the Dakota Territory Supreme Court.

The county is entirely within the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and contains part of Badlands National Park. It is one of five South Dakota counties entirely on an Indian reservation. (The others are Corson, Dewey, Todd, and Ziebach.) The county's per-capita income makes it the second poorest county in the United States, as of the 2000 census.[3] (Buffalo County, South Dakota, is the poorest.)[3]


Until 1982, Shannon and Washabaugh County, South Dakota were the last unorganized counties in the United States. Although it was organized and received a home rule charter that year, Shannon, as noted above, contracts with Fall River County for its Auditor, Treasurer, and Registrar of Deeds.[4]

The Wounded Knee Massacre took place in Shannon County.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,097 square miles (5,430 km2), of which 2,094 square miles (5,420 km2) is land and 2.8 square miles (7.3 km2) (0.1%) is water.[5]

The county includes the headwaters of the Little White River.

Major highways[edit]

Adjacent counties[edit]

National protected area[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1920 2,003
1930 4,058 102.6%
1940 5,366 32.2%
1950 5,669 5.6%
1960 6,000 5.8%
1970 8,198 36.6%
1980 11,323 38.1%
1990 9,902 −12.5%
2000 12,466 25.9%
2010 13,586 9.0%
Est. 2013 14,118 3.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
2013 Estimate[1]

As of the census[7] of 2000, there were 12,466 people, 2,785 households, and 2,353 families residing in the county. The population density was 6 people per square mile (2/km²). There were 3,123 housing units at an average density of 2 per square mile (1/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 4.51% White, 0.08% Black or African American, 94.20% Native American, 0.02% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.22% from other races, and 0.91% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.42% of the population.

There are 2,785 households out of which 51.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.40% were married couples living together, 36.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 15.50% were non-families. 13.20% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.00% have someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 4.36 and the average family size was 4.72.

In the county the population was spread out with 45.30% under the age of 18, 10.60% from 18 to 24, 25.60% from 25 to 44, 13.80% from 45 to 64, and 4.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 21 years. For every 100 females there were 99.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.60 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $20,916, and the median income for a family was $20,897. Males had a median income of $25,170 versus $22,594 for females. The per capita income for the county was $6,286. About 45.10% of families and 52.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 60.80% of those under age 18 and 36.00% of those age 65 or over.


The counties surrounding Shannon County are predominantly Republican. However, Shannon County is a solid Democratic county.

In recent years, its residents have become more politically active, voting in state and national elections. A voter registration drive in 2002 helped gain support for the Democratic candidate for the US Senate, and turnout in Shannon County and across the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation helped narrowly elect Tim Johnson to office. But Michael New, a post-doctoral fellow at the Harvard-MIT Data Center, has inspected the South Dakota Secretary of State's Web site to discover other striking facts: While Democrat Tim Johnson ran statewide about 12 percentage points behind what Mr. Daschle got in his 1998 Senate victory, in Shannon County Mr. Johnson ran about 12 percentage points ahead. He got 92% of the vote compared with Mr. Daschle's 80%. Nowhere else in the state did Mr. Johnson improve his vote share relative to Mr. Daschle. Senate voter turnout was up 27% statewide for this year's close contest compared with 1998, but in Shannon County turnout increased by 89%. Again, no other county in the state showed comparable turnout increases. Shannon County is largely Indian country, home to the Oglala Sioux nation, and is heavily Democratic. But Mr. Thune managed to receive only nine more votes there than did Mr. Daschle's opponent in 1998, notwithstanding the much larger turnout. Mr. New points out that this is just a 4% increase in GOP votes over 1998. In the other three South Dakota counties where Indians constitute more than two-thirds of the population, Mr. Thune gained between 23% and 43% more votes than the GOP candidate in 1998.[8]

The county has the distinction of having the highest percentage of Democratic votes for President in the 2004 election of any county in the US (85%), in 2008 with 88.69%, and in 2012 with 93.39%. It has not voted for a Republican in a presidential election since 1952. Nevertheless, allegations of rampant vote buying and rampant vote fraud has plagued the county for the past 6 Presidential elections. It is an alcohol prohibition or dry county, the only such county in South Dakota; taxes on alcohol illegally consumed within the county go to other counties, as the alcohol is purchased in surrounding communities and the revenues associated with those alcohol sales remain at the point of purchase.[clarification needed]



Census-designated places[edit]

2010 United States Census population[9]

Other community[edit]


The county is divided into two areas of unorganized territory: East Shannon and West Shannon.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 28, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ a b Johansen, Bruce E., and Barry Pritzker. 2008. Encyclopedia of American Indian history. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO. p. 156. ISBN 9781851098170.
  4. ^ [1], accessed April 19, 2009.
  5. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  6. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  7. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions: South Dakota". Population Census. 2010 United States Census. 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2011-07-26. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°20′N 102°33′W / 43.33°N 102.55°W / 43.33; -102.55