An analysis of potential soil productivity and land use on the Standing Rock Reservation

Thomas C. Jeffery
Dept. of Geography, University of Nebraska
August, 2006


The soil resource is one of the most influential factors in determining the manner in which agricultural land is used. However, external factors such as culture, economics, and market demand also contribute to land use decisions and in some cases may disproportionately influence utilization of the soil resource. History has shown that the result of allowing land use decisions to be disproportionately influenced by external factors may result in the misuse and consequent over-utilization of the soil resource. Alternatively, the underutilization of the soil resource may inhibit the ability of the land owners to fully realize the economic return available from their land. This dissertation compares land use patterns on two politically and culturally disparate, yet geographically adjacent land areas. Land use is evaluated on the Standing Rock reservation in North and South Dakota, and compared with the land use patterns in the area immediately surrounding the reservation, for the purpose of identifying whether land use decisions are influenced by location with respect to the reservation. In addition, the potential productivity of the soil resource within both study sites is evaluated and correlated with land use to determine whether the two sites utilize productive soils in the same way. Finally, the various land ownership categories on the reservation are correlated with land use and also with potential soil productivity to identify any differences in land use and potential productivity within the reservation. The results of this research indicate that land use patterns as well as potential productivity are significantly different on the reservation in comparison to the land surrounding the reservation. In addition, land use and potential productivity within the reservation vary, depending upon whether the land is under Indian or non-Indian ownership.