Native American Heritage Month was first established in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. Since then, the month-long celebration has been reauthorized annually by each American president.

November offers everyone an opportunity to learn more about Native American histories and cultures. This November, take a few moments to learn more about the demographic characteristics of American Indians in South Dakota by perusing our infographic. 

For more information on Native Americans in South Dakota, visit our Native Data Series as well as our various charts and graphs on the South Dakota Dashboard. Download a full resolution version of this infographic at the bottom of this page. 

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South Dakota’s population grew by 0.9 percent between July 2015 and July 2016, ranking the state 14th among the fastest growing states in the nation, according to recently released U.S. Census data. Lincoln County, part of the Sioux Falls metropolitan region, was the fastest growing county in the state, with a 3.1 percent increase, while Meade County, part of the Rapid City metropolitan region grew by 2.4 percent.

The populations of South Dakota’s metropolitan areas grew at over twice the rate of the state’s micropolitan areas—1.3 percent to 0.6 percent growth. The Sioux Falls and Rapid City metropolitan areas saw increased populations from 2015-2016. The Sioux Falls metro area grew by 1.5 percent while the Rapid City metro area grew by 1.1 percent. The Sioux City metropolitan area edged up slightly by 0.3 percent during the same time frame.

While the Rushmore State’s metropolitan areas saw an increase in population from 2015-2016, so did several outlying counties. Mellette County grew by 2.5 percent from 2015-2016, although its population decreased by 2.4 percent from 2014-2015. Lake County in eastern South Dakota also grew by 2.5 percent.

The Black Hills region grew by 1.0 percent during the same time period. While Meade County led the region at 2.4 percent, Custer and Lawrence County grew by 1.7 and 1.6 percent, respectively. Pennington County experienced the slowest growth in the region at 0.7 percent.

The population of the Spearfish micropolitan area expanded by 1.7 percent, faster than any other micropolitan area in the state. 

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The number of South Dakota residents over the age of 65 continues to increase, according to U.S. Census data. There were 134,420 seniors over the age of 65 in the Rushmore State in 2015, up from just 118,472 in 2011. Additionally, the population of seniors aged 85 and above increased from 19,766 in 2011 to 21,368 in 2015.

Potter County had the highest percentage of seniors at 28.8 percent, while Oglala Lakota County had the lowest at 6.8 percent. Minnehaha County had the most senior residents in the state with a population of 23,258. Buffalo County had the fewest residents aged 65 and older with a total population of just 161.

The Black Hills region has seen a substantial increase in the senior population since 2000. In 2015, 16.4 percent of the Rapid City metro area’s population was aged 65 or older, up from 14.6 percent in 2012, and 11.5 percent in 2000. The Spearfish micropolitan area’s senior population was 19.2 percent in 2015, up 4.6 percent from 2000. By comparison, the Sioux Falls metropolitan area has only experienced a 1.0 percent increase from 11.6 percent in 2000 to 12.6 percent in 2015.

The median household incomes of individual aged 65 and above also increased in 2015 to $37,896 from $35,285 in 2014. However, income gaps persisted. Men 65 years and older had a median household income of $52,200 in 2015, while women had an average of $27,400 during the same time period.

Poverty rates also declined for South Dakota seniors. In 2015, just 6.5 percent of seniors aged 65-74 lived below the federal poverty level compared to 8.9 percent in 2014. The poverty rate for seniors over the age of 75 also decreased in 2015 to 10.6 percent in 2015 from 12.7 percent in 2014. 

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The proportion of South Dakota's population age 65 and older has been growing steadily since 2011 while the population of 5-17 and 18-64 year-olds has stabilized.  The 65+ population has increased by 13.46 percent  since 2011, compared to a 2.12 percent rise in the 0-4 age group. See the table below for growth rates since 2011 for all age groups. 

Age Group Growth from 2011-2015
0-4 2.12%
5-17 4.08%
18-64 2.21%
65+ 13.46%


The Spearfish micropolitan area is home to the largest proportion of residents age 65 and older, and consequently the highest retirement-to-working-age ratio.

The population of residents age 65 and older has dramatically increased in the Black Hills region compared to the state as a whole. The Black Hills 65+ population has grown by 21.63 percent since 2011 compared to a 13.46 percent increase for this age group statewide.

The increase in residents age 65 and older has augmented the retirement-to working-age ratio statewide which has grown by 2.6 percent since 2011.

This trend follows projections by demographers who say that the United States population of 65+ individuals will dramatically increase within the next 50 years due to the aging of the baby boomer generation. Read this article from the Population Reference Bureau for more in-depth information on this topic.


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Registration is now open for the Fourth Annual South Dakota State Demography Conference. Hosted by the SDSU Rural Life and Census Data Center, this year’s event will focus on heath and population data in South Dakota. The conference, scheduled for May 19 (8 am-5 pm) and 20 (8 am-noon), will be held at the University Center in Sioux Falls.

The $45 registration fee includes breakfast, lunch and snacks. Topics to be discussed include:

  • Findings from the 2014 State Health Survey
  • Health disparities by age, gender, race and class
  • Heath data issues for American Indian communities
  • Methodology and geography for health statistics
  • Demographic trends in South Dakota
  • Access and use of available data tools and resources

A webinar, “Helping South Dakota Businesses Thrive: Introducing Census Business Builder” hosted by Andrew Hait  of the U.S. Census Bureau, will be offered to all attendants.

Presenters include Kimberly Davis of the U.S. Census Bureau, South Dakota State Epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger, South Dakota State Demographer Weiwei Zhang, Mary Killsahundred of the SDSU State Data Center, Patricia Da Rosa of SDSU, Carole Cochran of KIDS Count, Heide Schultz of the Helmsley Charitable Trust, Preston Renshaw and Daniel Steinwand of Avera Health, Jessica Hanson, Wyatt Pickner and Susan Puumala of Sanford Health, and Callie Tysdal, Denise Ross and Eric John Abrahamson of the Black Hills Knowledge Network/South Dakota Dashboard. 

You can register online

For more information contact Joni Mueller at [email protected].

To explore presentations and findings from the 2015 South Dakota Demography Conference, which focused on economic trends, see the 2015 South Dakota Demography Conference resource guide on the South Dakota Dashboard.


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Monday, 25 April 2016 00:00

SD Population Growth Slows

After ticking up a slight 8.2 percent between 1940 and 1990, South Dakota's population started climbing in 1990 and grew 23 percent by 2015. Between 2014 and 2015, however, population growth in the Rushmore state was 0.6 percent, the smallest percentage in the past five years. 

Growth slowed to below 1 percent (0.95 percent) from 2013-2014 after annual growth was about 1.25 percent for each of the previous three years, according to federal data

Here's a look at the state's population growth over the years: 

 1940  --  -- 642,961 
 1990   8.2 %   53,043 696,004
 2000 8.5 % 58,840 754,844
2010  7.9 %  59,336 814,180
2011  1.24 %  10,109  824,289
2012  1.25 %  10,342 834,631
2013 1.28 %  10,639 845,270
2014  0.95 %  8,034  853,304
2015 0.6 %  5,165 858,469

Just four states have smaller populations than South Dakota, which is one of five states with a population of less than 1 million. The other under-a-million states are Delaware (945,934), North Dakota (756,927), Alaska (738,432), Vermont (626,042) and Wyoming (586,107).

Metro Areas Dominate Growth

As South Dakota's population as a whole has grown, about 10,000 people emptied out of the countrysides between 2000 and 2015, while the metropolitan areas logged 31.5 percent population growth (98,402 people) from 312,495 to 410,897. South Dakota's metropolitan areas are those of Sioux Falls, Rapid City and one county within the Sioux City area.

The state's rural "non-metropolitan" areas had a population of 227,718 in 2000 and 217,909 in 2015, a drop of 4.3 percent. The rural parts of South Dakota experienced population loss every year up until the Great Recession hit. After 2009, South Dakota's rural population experienced minute annual growth except for 2010-2011, when it declined. From 2014-2015, rural South Dakota's population grew by 0.1 percent (222 people). 

South Dakota's micropolitan areas grew by 7 percent. Combined, the communities of Aberdeen, Brookings, Huron, Mitchell, Pierre, Spearfish, Watertown, Yankton and Vermillion and their surroundings added 15,032 people

Those population changes shifted South Dakota's population to be more urban. Here's a look at how the state's population shifted in the past 15 years. 

 2000 312,495
41 % 214,631 28 % 227,718 30 %
 2015 410,897 48 % 229,663
27 %


25 %




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Tuesday, 08 March 2016 00:00

TRIVIA TUESDAY: Women in South Dakota

The fourth installment of Trivia Tuesday is ready to enjoy. Impress your friends and coworkers after learning smart-sounding data from our sleek infographics. Further your education by scrolling to the end of the page and clicking the text links to dive deeper into the data at hand. This week’s installment focuses on women in South Dakota by the numbers.

women in sodak

  1. There are 424,000 women and girls in South Dakota, making up 49.7 percent of state's population. Approximately 17% are women of color, though that number may be even higher due to census estimation limitations for race.
  2. 72.2% of women are registered to vote, but only account for 22.2% of elected officials
  3. There are approximately 135,000, or 65% of working-age women participating in the South Dakota workforce.
  4. In 2014, female full-time workers in South Dakota made only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 21%.
  5. 15.4% of South Dakotan women live in poverty
  6. The median household income for a single women with children in South Dakota is $25,000. The state median household income is $51,000.
  7. Approximately 29.3 percent of women 25 years or older hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Surpassing men by 3.9%.
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Monday, 01 February 2016 00:00

37,000 South Dakota Children In Poverty

More than 37,000 South Dakota children lived in poverty in 2014, with more than 14,000 of those living below half the poverty line, according to recently updated federal data

The U.S. Census Bureau uses a set of dollar value thresholds that vary by family size and composition to determine who is in poverty. For example, for a family of two adults and two children interviewed in July 2014, the federal poverty threshold was about $23,818. The poverty threshold for a family of this size and composition will vary slightly depending on the month. 

Both the number and percentage of South Dakota children living below poverty rose after the Great Recession in 2009, while at the same time the number and percentage living at below half the poverty threshold has dipped. The overall percentage of children living in poverty in the years leading up to the recession was about 16 percent, split about evenly between those living below 50 percent of poverty and those living between 50 and 99 percent of poverty. 

Nearly every year since 2009, about 18 percent of South Dakota's children have lived in poverty. Of those, between 10 and 11 percent have lived between 50 and 99 percent of poverty and less than 8 percent have lived at below half of poverty. The 2014 rate of 7 percent (14,546 children) at below half of poverty marks a low in both percentage and total number since at least 2006. 

At the same time, the 10.9 percent (22,581 children) living between 50 and 99 percent of poverty in 2014 marked the highest number since at least 2006 (though the increase is well within the margin of error) and tied with 2009 for the highest percentage in that time period. 

Meanwhile, more children moved into higher income categories in 2014. Here's a look at other income strata for that year: 

  • 100-199 percent of poverty -- 22.4 percent/46,212 children, tied with 2011 for the lowest percentage in this category.
  • 200-299 percent of poverty -- 19.8 percent/40,944 children, the lowest percentage and 3rd lowest number since 2006.
  • 300-399 percent of poverty -- 18 percent/37,062 children, the highest percentage and number since 2006.
  • Above 400 percent of poverty -- 21.8 percent/44,989 children, the highest percentage and number since 2006. 


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Wednesday, 30 September 2015 18:00

SD Demography Conference Schedule Released

Learn how to build a business, navigate federal Census data online or stop the population decline of small towns at the 2015 South Dakota Demography Conference. For the just-released complete schedule of speakers and sessions for Thursday, Oct. 8, and Friday, Oct. 9, see below. 

You can register for the conference online.

The conference, to be held from Wednesday, Oct. 7, through Friday, Oct. 9, at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology campus in Rapid City, includes a mini-conference on Thursday morning, Focus on the Economy, and a keynote luncheon on Friday, from Reservation to Rapid City. Separate tickets are available for those events for those who are unable to attend the entire conference.

Conference organizers are proud to welcome presenters and speakers from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, the Government Research Bureau at the University of South Dakota, the South Dakota Governor's Office of Economic Development, Kids Count, Augustana University, the Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association, SDSU Extension, South Dakota Rural Life and Census Data Center, Arts Rapid City and the South Dakota Dashboard/Black Hills Knowledge Network

There's a Welcome Reception from 6 pm to 7:30 pm on Wednesday, Oct. 7, at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology / Surbeck Center. Conference registrants are invited to a reception at The Garage in downtown Rapid City, 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 8. 

Here's the conference schedule: 

Schedule South Dakota Demography Conference page 002

Schedule South Dakota Demography Conference page 003

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Sunday, 20 September 2015 00:00

Men Outpacing Women In SD

Since 2009, males have been the majority in South Dakota and they have been growing faster than females in recent years, according to recently updated federal data

In 2000, women and girls outnumbered men and boys by 5,728 -- 380,286 females compared to 374,558 males. By 2014 that dynamic had reversed, with males outnumbering females by 5,451 -- 429,313 males compared to 423,862 females. 

In 2009, males overtook females in the state, with 403,869 males compared to 403,198 females. Since then, males have made larger gains than females, growing 5.4 percent between 2010 and 2014 compared to 4.2 percent growth for the female population. Overall, South Dakota's population grew 4.8 percent during that time. 


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Rapid City, SD 57701
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