Bennett County, South Dakota

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Bennett County, South Dakota
Map of South Dakota highlighting Bennett County
Location in the state of South Dakota
Map of the United States highlighting South Dakota
South Dakota's location in the U.S.
Founded 1912
Named for John E. Bennett or Granville G. Bennett
Seat Martin
Largest city Martin
 • Total 1,191 sq mi (3,085 km2)
 • Land 1,185 sq mi (3,069 km2)
 • Water 5.8 sq mi (15 km2), 0.5%
Population (est.)
 • (2013) 3,452
 • Density 2.9/sq mi (1/km²)
Congressional district At-large
Time zone Mountain: UTC-7/-6

Bennett County is a county located in the U.S. state of South Dakota. As of the 2010 census, the population was 3,431.[1] Its county seat is Martin.[2] The county was created in 1909 and organized in 1912.[3] The northwestern section of the county lies within the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The North American continental pole of inaccessibility is in Bennett County, located 1650 km (1024 mi) from the nearest coastline, between Allen and Kyle (Oglala Lakota County) at 43°22′N 101°58′W / 43.36°N 101.97°W / 43.36; -101.97 (Pole of Inaccessibility North America).[4]


This land was for centuries traditional territory of the Oglala Lakota, also known as the Sioux. First included in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, most of the county was removed from the reservation for 26 years after a 1910 act of the US Congress which "authorized and directed the Secretary of Interior to sell and dispose of all that portion of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, in the State of South Dakota, lying and being in Bennett County and described as follows: "...except for such portions therof as have been or may be hereafter allotted to Indians or otherwise reserved, and except lands classified as timber lands: Provided,..." The lands were allotted and Bennett County was opened for settlement. The event of "hereafter allot[ing]" lands occurred in the early 1900s. The boundaries of the future county were determined by the South Dakota state legislature in 1909. The United States participated only as amicus before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cook v. Parkinson, 525 F.2d 120 (8th Cir. 1975), a criminal case that discussed Bennett County as no longer being part of the Reservation. The United States is not bound by that decision because it did not participate in the litigation. The United States was a party in United States v. Bennett County, 394 F.2d 8 (8th Cir. 1968), in which the State of South Dakota had to obtain permission from the Department of Interior in order to fix roads or condemn property in Bennett County, consistent with the property's reservation status.[5]

To the east is the Rosebud Indian Reservation, occupied by Sicangu Oyate, also known the Upper Brulé Sioux Nation and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (RST), a branch of the Lakota people. By Secretarial Order dated June 10, 1936, the undisposed of lands in Bennett County opened for settlement under the 1910 Act were "restored to tribal ownership" and were "added to and made a part of the existing reservation..." [5]

The land was part of Fall River County until the European-American organization of Bennett County in 1912. That year on April 27, its first board of county commissioners was elected. In November 1912, residents chose the town of Martin as the county seat.

Both Lakota and European Americans have worked during recent decades to improve relations between the groups, which residents commonly refer to as full-bloods, mixed-bloods (usually both identified as Native American) and whites. Intermarriage continues between the groups and cooperation has been increasing.[6] In the mid-1990s, residents co-sponsored a concurrent powwow and rodeo in the county.[7] Historically ranching and dry land farming have been the chief agricultural pursuits possible given climate and soil conditions.

By the 1990s, people of Native American descent comprised the majority of county residents. In the 2000 Census, 5.7% of the people in Bennett County identified as mixed-race Native American-European American (more Lakota socially identify as having mixed-race ancestry)[7] This is the highest percentage of any county within US boundaries, except northeastern Oklahoma and White Earth Indian Reservation in northwestern Minnesota.[7]

The area made national headlines in 2014 when the entire township of Swett was put up for sale. The township's two residents listed six acres and all property in the township for sale for nearly $400,000.[8]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,191 square miles (3,080 km2), of which 1,185 square miles (3,070 km2) is land and 5.8 square miles (15 km2) (0.5%) is water.[9]

Major highways[edit]

Adjacent counties[edit]

National protected area[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1910 96
1920 1,924 1,904.2%
1930 4,590 138.6%
1940 3,983 −13.2%
1950 3,396 −14.7%
1960 3,053 −10.1%
1970 3,088 1.1%
1980 3,044 −1.4%
1990 3,206 5.3%
2000 3,574 11.5%
2010 3,431 −4.0%
Est. 2014 3,430 [10] 0.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[11]
1790-1960[12] 1900-1990[13]
1990-2000[14] 2010-2013[1]

As of the 2010 census there were 3,431 people in Bennett County, in 1,090 households (98.9% of the population was in households). The racial and ethnic composition of the population was 33.3% non-Hispanic white, 0.1% black or African American, 60.4% non-Hispanic Native American, 1.1% Hispanic Native American, 0.4% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.2% from some other race and 4.0% from two or more races. 65.3% of the population reported being at least partly Native American and 2.0% of the population was Hispanic or any race.[15]

As of the census[16] of 2000, there were 3,574 people, 1,123 households, and 818 families residing in the county. The population density was 3 people per square mile (1/km²). There were 1,278 housing units at an average density of 1 per square mile (0/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 40.91% White, 0.28% Black or African American, 52.07% Native American, 0.06% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 0.17% from other races, and 6.38% from two or more races. 2.01% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 14.2% were of German and 6.1% of Irish ancestry.

There were 1,123 households out of which 39.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.60% were married couples living together, 17.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.10% were non-families. 23.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.14 and the average family size was 3.74.

In the county, the population was spread out with 36.30% under the age of 18, 9.20% from 18 to 24, 25.30% from 25 to 44, 18.00% from 45 to 64, and 11.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females there were 98.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.90 males. The county's per-capita income makes it one of the poorest counties in the United States.

The median income for a household in the county was $25,313, and the median income for a family was $28,363. Males had a median income of $26,042 versus $17,472 for females. The per capita income for the county was $10,106. About 30.30% of families and 39.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 48.80% of those under age 18 and 23.10% of those age 65 or over.



Census-designated place[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]


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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 26, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ "Dakota Territory, South Dakota, and North Dakota: Individual County Chronologies". Dakota Territory Atlas of Historical County Boundaries. The Newberry Library. 2006. Retrieved March 28, 2015. 
  4. ^ Garcia-Castellanos, D.; U. Lombardo (2007). "Poles of Inaccessibility: A Calculation Algorithm for the Remotest Places on Earth" (PDF). Scottish Geographical Journal 123 (3): 227–233. doi:10.1080/14702540801897809. Retrieved 2008.  (Archive) - p. 231: "Region: America, North Longitude (deg. E.) -101.97 Latitude (deg. N.) 43.36 distance (km) 1639 uncertainty (km) +14 Altitude (m) 1030"
  5. ^ a b Suzanne R. Schaeffer, Assistant Solicitor, Environment, Land and Minerals Branch, Division of Indian Affairs
  6. ^ Gwen Florio, "Indians Show Political Clout; Natives Throng Polls in 'White' S.D. County", The Denver Post, January 8, 2003, accessed 8 June 2011
  7. ^ a b c Sterling Fluharty, "Review of Wagoner, Paula L., 'They Treated Us Just Like Indians': The Worlds of Bennett County, South Dakota", H-AmIndian, H-Net Reviews, March 2004, accessed 8 June 2011
  8. ^ "Buy a town: Swett, South Dakota for sale". Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  9. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  11. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  13. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  15. ^ 2010 profile of general housing and population characteristics of Bennett County from the US census
  16. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 

Coordinates: 43°11′N 101°40′W / 43.18°N 101.66°W / 43.18; -101.66