Looking into America’s Poorest County
More than 60 percent of people live at or below the poverty line in Ziebach County, S.D., America’s poorest county. Failed attempts to create jobs there have lasted for generations, according to The Tribune, due to the isolated location, the area’s poor infrastructure, a poorly trained population and a Sioux tribe that struggles to work with businesses.
Most of Ziebach County’s residents are Sioux Indians living on a reservation. Without a viable private sector, every part of life in Ziebach depends on federal money, which pays for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Education and the Indian Health Service, three of the reservation’s largest employers.
Hope for the tribe will arrive later this fall, when the Sioux will start receiving payments from a $290 million settlement with Congress related to farmland that was lost to the Missouri River flooding, and will receive annual interest on the settlement money. Ziebach citizens hope that the money can be used for infrastructure improvements, economic development and education.