North Dakota/South Dakota Have 5 Of The Nation’s Top Ten Poorest Counties

Using US Census Data, MSN Money identified America’s top 15 poorest counties. In the top ten are four counties from South Dakota, and one from North Dakota:

#9 Corson County, SD
#7 Sioux County, ND
#3 Shannon County, SD
#2 Todd County, SD
#1 Ziebach County, SD

It’s surprising to see areas from North and South Dakota included on this list. North Dakota (thanks to hydraulic fracturing and a shale oil boom) and South Dakota (thanks to low taxes and limited government) are both national economic leaders. Both states have weathered the national recession quite well, so why are these areas so impoverished?

Setting aside very real problems in the way the federal government measures poverty, the one thing all of these counties have in common is that they have high concentrations of Native Americans being situated either on or near Indian reservations.

As the article notes, Native Americans have the highest rates of poverty of any ethnic group in America. But how can that be? Native Americans are supported more by the federal government than any other ethnic group.

They have an entire federal agency devoted to them – the Bureau of Indian Affairs – as well as their own government health care system, Indian Health Services, through which prescriptions and eye care and hospitalizations are all paid for courtesy of the taxpayer. They also have their own semi-autonomous political enclaves all around the United States, and a raft of federal benefits.

Huge amounts of federal money are spent on providing housing on the reservations, and depending on the Indian tribe, many Native Americans get direct government payments for violations of past treaties or the use of land. There are numerous other programs, often specific to certain tribes or regions, too numerous to mention here, and of course Native Americans can qualify for the same social programs (welfare, food stamps, heating/housing assistance, etc.) that all Americans are eligible for.

So how can a group of people who are living in the sort of entitlement state that the political left would have us believe is nirvana do so poorly economically speaking? It’s not the economy because overall both North Dakota and South Dakota have strong economies. It’s not a racial thing. Indians are as capable of prosperity as any other group of Americans. We could say that the reservations weren’t so much created for the benefit of the Indians as for the benefit of white settlers who wanted them out of the way of western expansion, but only takes us so far.

The only real difference between these Native American communities and America as a whole is that those communities live closer to the liberal ideal of government-run everything than the rest of the country.

Maybe, just maybe, all those government programs do more harm than good.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Jay

    Amen. When poverty is subsidized, there’s more poverty. What a concept.

    • $8194357

      Water “liberaly” with federal cash, what you want to ‘grow” more of..

  • sbark

    Look at any States, Cities that essentially have voted Dem’cat for Decades……..they follow the same slow degradation as the Indian Reservations…….

    Detroit, Pre Katrina New Orleans, NY, NJ, Calif, Wisc pre Walker,, Illinois,……

    but its also why class envy works well for them……….people never want to blame themeselves for their own votes……..they always want to blame something or somebody else for the problems they themselves have brought on….

    • $8194357

      Yup..Been saying it for years…Big government “in the name of social justice” breeds coruption”…

  • Dakota_Mel

    This is also a great example of how easily handouts, even those that are offered as a “hand up”, can quickly become shackles around your wrists.

  • awfulorv

    They also seem to have more trouble with their cars than anyone I’ve ever seen.  Whenever I drive by their homes I see two, or three, autos, they’re working on, sitting out front.

    • borborygmi

      You would think they were rednecks from the South

  • sbark

    one post that should be deleted…..even on a “say anything” blog…..

    • Rob

      It has been deleted.  I don’t censor often, but that comment was terrible and had no redeeming values.

      • borborygmi

        wow that had to be bad.  

        • Anna830

           man… I miss all the good stuff

        • sbark

          nothing that Joe Biden hasnt said on tape…….

  • White_Polluter

    Shannon County had the highest percentage of Democrat votes cast in the presidential elections of 2004 & 2008 per wikipedia.  85% +.

    • $8194357

      ACORN spent alot of “non partisian taxpayer cash” here on N.Dak. reservations as well..The prairies version of the inner city projects….

    • borborygmi

      I love people who make no bones about who and what they are.    Your Mama must be proud.

      • $8194357

        You mean like h8r, there borb? Or sparkie de based god?
        By the way borb, been meaning to ask?
        Does borborygmi have some significant meaning I have missed?
        Sometimes on somethings I need a leg up on that short bus as well…

        • flamemeister

          It has to do with belching.  Seriously.

          • $8194357

            Thanks flame. Silence from borb is enjoyable at times but like my six year old gand child he/she ignores me when asked a direct question…

      • sbark

        if in fact those are the facts, then those are the facts…………..facts do not make one a racist or what ever name a demcat might want to call somebody…..

        A Fact like that just solidifies the track record of 100% failure in anything the radical left touches……..

        Its wanting to hide those facts and their effects is what is near criminal at this point

        • $8194357

          ( Its wanting to hide those facts and their effects is what is near criminal at this point )

          Treason would be a better choice IMO at this point of the “State of the Constituional Union”….alot of these Democratic Progressive Caucus, CPUSA, Alinsky lovers know “exactly” what their Cloward/Piven loving asses are doing…..

      • $8194357

        Me as well borborygmi..

        Borborygmi – What is Borborygmi – Inflammatory Bowel Disease – IBD …
        “Noise associated with irritable bowl syndrome.”.

        Definition: The sound that gas makes as it moves through the intestines. It can occur when you’re hungry, but it can also happen after meals. It’s often called “stomach growling” or “stomach rumbling.” Borborygmi is normal and happens to everyone from time to time.

        ( I love people who make no bones about who and what they are.    Your Mama must be proud.)

        Talking out of ones arse, perhaps?
        I did “MY” home work…Have you done yours yet on where your leftist critical therory anti American ideologies and “doctrine” come from as of yet?
          Chirp..chirp…chirp….(Crickets: The sound of silence!)
        Come on out of the darkness and become a child of the light…You won’t burst into flames…I used to be alot like you and I didn’t….
        God Bless now, Hear?

        30 caliber military designation for a 308 Winchester, but “Whats in a name, borborygmi? Whats in a name….

  • ND in MD

    What happens to the revenue from the casinos?

    • RCND

      Depends on the tribe and how the agreements are set up

    • $8194357

      Depends on who your relatives are….

  • Kevin Flanagan

    It pays handsomely to be a member of the Shakopee tribe. 

  • Guest

    The problem has many inputs, but the result is an extreme deterioration on the individual’s effort and reward system. It is a fact of Native-American life that you need not work at all to live modestly well. When Natives wish to live better they can work, but failure is not a catastrophic event so the effort is unusually half-hearted. When there are no consequences to failure there is no motivation to avoid it. I have known hundreds of natives that treat education and re-education as something to do to avoid some immediate trouble, but not to gain delayed comfort and security. It is a rare soul that breaks out and starts a real career. It troubles me to see those that do leeched upon by their extended family of drifters and moochers, but that often happens. The true problem is not economic, it is spiritual and moral bankruptcy.

  • logic_minded

    did any of you stop to think that all those sweet rides up on blocks are whats causing the oil boom in north dakota? i mean, that many cars, dripping that much oil………..

    • ndoldman

      those “sweet rides ” are called lawm ornaments. seems to be a norm when too much “free” money is availble , priorities
       seem to go, what gets broken doesn’t get fixed,just replaced .

  • ellinas1

    So how can a group of people who
    are living in the sort of entitlement state that the political left
    would have us believe is nirvana do so poorly economically speaking?
    Rob Port on 02/25/2012

    That criminal lobbyist, Abramoff and his criminal republican con(servative) friends were stealing from this group of people. That’s how.

    • flamemeister

      Abramoff’s depredations are a teenie weenie hair on a miniscule pimple on the elephant-ass of the problem.  There is a rich history of tribal crime and corruption that has little to do with outside influences.

      • ellinas1

        Then the blame lays elsewhere, and not on this:  “….entitlement state that the political left would have us believe….”

        • flamemeister

          Does it really?  After 50 years’ study of human nature, I think not.

          • $8194357

            I have 30 or 40 in as well and find your analysis to be very much the same as mine flame..Entitlement payments folks haven’t paid in themselves breeds dependency and slaves while Equal under the Rule of Law citizenship yeilds productive citizens. Protected class groups are taken out from under “equal” under the law status and Article 28 forbids the government from doing that for their constituants or themselves, but look what they have done for themselves and the “poor folk” they made dependent to their plantation..
            Sad really..Real civics and Constituional Rule of Law foundations are not taught and haven’t been for sometime and have been replaced with “false” social justice class warfare shame and quilt instead..Political correctness by its proper name is cultural terrorism and has been the Lefts “religion” for decades now…

          • flamemeister

            Actually, closer to 70 years.  Childhood provides some very clear observations to meditate on later.  Human beings are, by and large, slugs—given the chance and circumstances.  I know that it is in myself. I have even heard from welfare and unemployment recipients that they were getting “hooked” on their situation. Honest social workers have tales to tell, and I recall that there are some significant statistics indicating that a whole lot of people on extended unemployment simply settle in to their new lifestyle.  Working and improving one’s life and that of others takes us out of our infantile world into real life; we learn; we see new possibilities of what life can be.  That goes far toward overcoming our natural inertia as we see new goals, tangible and intangible, that will expand our character, knowledge and self-awareness.  Liberalism produces cripples, people who, unlike the truly handicapped, would rather you bring them cake than learn to use a pair of free crutches to get it themselves.  My nephew was severely crippled with Duchenne-type MD.  Yes, he needed and got basic assistance (which in his case was quite a lot), but he still created a number of businesses, including one that organized and provided aid to others with his condition.  He had the greatest contempt for those who expected everything handed to them.

          • ellinas1

             You  said: “There is a rich history of tribal crime and corruption that has little to do with outside influences. ”

            Now I ask you. Did the natives do it to one another, or the entitlements did it to them.
            Maybe we should look and see who stole their land and gave ‘em welfare instead.
            I bet you, that the thieves are from both sides of the aisle.

          • flamemeister

            Tribal government is often, if not always, organized along clan lines.  ‘Nuff sed on that.

            Entitlements do not evoke virtue.

            Who stole their land, who gave them smallpox and firewater, yadaydadayada, and on and on … ………………………………………. . . . Oops, I fell asleep on my keyboard.

          • ellinas1

            I am not looking for virtue.
            I am looking for the truth. Mr. Port and others frequently hide the truth behind the lies, or they don’t tell the whole story.

          • flamemeister

            No one can tell the whole true story. But anyone can tell a story that satisfies them.

          • ellinas1

            True that.
            But one can strive to be as accurate as possible.

          • flamemeister

            Yes, with the best will in the world; however, “When will and imagination are in conflict, imagination always wins.”

          • ellinas1

            Good morning.
            I cannot argue with your answer for it is the truth.
            The wise old man (you), has spoken.

          • flamemeister

            Good morning to you!  Actually it was a wise old woman who said that.

    • The Whistler

       There would have been no Abramoff without corrupt politicians like Byron Dorgan willing to do favors for him in exchange for campaign donations. 

      • ellinas1

        I don’t recall Abramoff going to prison over his dealings with Dorgan.
        Nice try, but no cookie for you.

        • Camsaure

          Conrat should also be in jail, but has been given free pass by his Dem cohorts.

          • ellinas1

             And why his repub cohorts aren’t pushing the issue?

          • $8194357

            Hey E…
            Issa is. Evil Republican hater that he is just won’t let Comrad Kent and money bags Dodd ride off into the sunset without some answers on how being such high ranking members of Congress on Banking committees couldn’t understand the appearance of impropriety with low interest Cloward/Piven strategy loans ment for the poor folks to bring down the evil wall street…
            Just don’t seem right somehow, huh?

          • ellinas1

            Darrel Isa is not an evil republican. I hope his  pursuit of the issue will ultimately reveal the truth.
            Cloward/Piven huh? You would bring up some failed strategy envisioned by two professors. A failed strategy frequently used by Glen Beck  to boost his ratings/image and sell lots of books.

          • $8194357

            (Cloward/Piven huh?)
            At least open the article from 2009 and see the pair of 60’s radicles standing behind Bubba Clinton as he signed Barry Soretos first pet project “Moter Voter” law he made his bones on into existance to help ACORN flood the election process with fraud to hasten its collapse.

            It was David Horowitz, Beck got most all of his stuff from, but what the heck E..
            He was “only an insider” with the “leftist anarchy agenda”, not that that little “fact” makes a difference..go figure..Copy and paste this rbb…

            September 28, 2008
            Barack Obama and the Strategy of Manufactured Crisis
            By James Simpson
            America waits with bated breath while Washington struggles to bring the U.S. economy back from the brink of disaster. But many of those same politicians caused the crisis, and if left to their own devices will do so again.
            Despite the mass media news blackout, a series of books, talk radio and the blogosphere have managed to expose Barack Obama’s connections to his radical mentors — Weather Underground bombers William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, Communist Party member Frank Marshall Davis and others.
            (David Horowitz and his Discover the
            have also contributed a wealth of information and have noted Obama’s radical connections since the beginning.Yet, no one to my knowledge has yet connected all the dots between Barack Obama and the Radical Left. When seen together, the influences on Obama’s life comprise a who’s who of the radical leftist movement, and it becomes (painfully apparent) that not only is “Obama a willing participant in that movemen”t, he (has spent most of his adult life deeply immersed in it.)
             November 23, 2009
            Cloward-Piven Government 
            By James Simpson
            It is time to cast aside all remaining doubt. (
            President Obama is not trying to lead America forward to recovery,)
            prosperity and strength. “Quite the opposite, in fact.”
            In September of last year, American Thinker published my article, (Barack Obama and the Strategy of Manufactured Crisis).

            Part of a series, it connected then-presidential candidate Barack Obama to individuals and organizations practicing a malevolent strategy for destroying our economy and our system of government. Since then, the story of that strategy has found its way across the blogosphere, onto the airwaves of radio stations across the country, the Glenn Beck television show, Bill O’Reilly, and now Mark Levin.

            The methodology is known as the Cloward-Piven Strategy, and
            (we can all be grateful to David Horowitz and his Discover the Networks for originally exposing and explaining it to us)
            . He describes it as:

            The strategy of forcing political change through orchestrated crisis.
            The “Cloward-Piven Strategy” seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse.


        • Old-timer

          Abramoff went to jail for making false statements on a loan application in Florida. It had nothing to do with the Indians, as the Democratic media would have you believe. His so-called fleecing of the tribes (who made billions as a result of his lobbying) was no different than what former Dorgan staffer Sara Garland and other Democrat lobbyists had been doing to them for years.

          • realitybasedbob

            Hey Ot, ya know what the easiest way to debunk a nutter’s claim is?
            That’s right, look it up!

            Abramoff was jailed after pleading guilty to corruption-related charges, including bilking the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and others out of millions of dollars and bribing public officials in Washington, D.C.


          • $8194357

             ( ya know what the easiest way to debunk a nutter’s claim is?)

            Yeah..Just read whatever you write rbb and go in the 180 degree opposite direction…there “Truth” will be found….Apoligist dip..

          • realitybasedbob

            Abramoff went to jail for making false statements on a loan application in Florida. It had nothing to do with the Indians, as the Democratic media would have you believe

            Cable Exclusive: Jack Abramoff Tells All After Fall From Grace

            Published November 07, 2011 | Hannity | Sean Hannity

            Special Guests: Jack Abramoff, author, ‘Capitol Punishment’

            …Now in 2006, Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to fraud and bribery charges related to a scheme in which he swindled American-Indian clients, manipulated public officials and pocketed tens of millions for himself and his business partner, a former communications director for former House majority leader and Texas Congressman Tom Delay.


            Nutters crack me up.

          • ellinas1

            Bold faced liars, these nutters.
            Good job Bob.

          • $8194357

            Yeah your right E…rbb is a bold faced liar IMO 2…

          • ellinas1

            I disagree with you.
            In this case the “Old timer” lied and Bob set the record straight.
            Scroll up to see what “Old timer” claimed and what the truth is.

          • realitybasedbob

            Thanks E, but there are things our right wing extremist friends can not admit, like when their wrong. Remember, don’t retreat, reload.

          • ellinas1

             You’re welcome Bob.
            And thank you for your timely assistance.
            I bet you this “old timer” is some coward’s lying and propaganda spreading sock puppet.
            Like you say. Nutters  crack me up.

          • Onslaught1066

            Hey E, you know the best way to poke a snot-nosed libtard in the eye?That’s right, look it up!

            As of today nothing changed since the ancient times.

            Pederasty is a sexual relationship between an adult male and an adolescent boy.
            The word pederasty derives from Greek (paiderastia) “love of boys
            Relationships in ancient Greece involved boys from 12 to about 17.

            As of today nothing changed since the ancient times.


          • Guest

             You dope.

          • Oldtimer

            You people should probably read further before you throw the “liar” and “nutter” memes around. Yes, Abramoff plea-bargained concerning the Indian lobbying case. But he actually went to jail over the charges in connection with the SunCruz Casinos fraud conviction. His sentence in the Indian case was “restitution.”

            So lighten up. Again, his “fraud” on the Indians made them billions.

          • ellinas1

            BS on your part.
            And your ” they do it too” is beyond pathetic.

          • $8194357

            Even the blind squirrl finds a nut now and then and rbb is a blind leftist squirrl for sue..why you keep supporting his twisted visions E…I know we see alot of things different, but your continual support for the hater here is beyond my comprhension.
            You really hate conservitive America as much as this twisted individual?

          • ellinas1

            I dissagree with you.
            Bobs different opinions on the issues we blog are accurate. I see no hatred in his part.
            If you know of anything he wrote that can be construed as hatred,please let me know and I will be more then happy to analyze and dissect it, and hopefully come to a satisfactory conclusion one way or another.

          • $8194357

            Best friends graduated from medical school at the same time and decided that, in spite of two different specialties, they would open a practice together to share office space and personnel. Dr. Smith was the psychiatrist and Dr. Jones was the proctologist; they put up a sign reading: “Dr. Smith and Dr. Jones: Hysterias and Posteriors”.
            The town council was livid and insisted they change it. So, the docs changed it to read: “Schizoids and Hemorrhoids”.
            This was also not acceptable, so they again changed the sign.
            “Catatonics and High Colonics”
            No go
            .Next, they tried
            “Manic Depressives and Anal Retentives” – thumbs down again.
            Then came “Minds and Behinds” – still no good.
            Another attempt resulted in “Lost Souls and Butt Holes” – unacceptable again!
            So they tried “Analysis and Anal Cysts” – not a chance.
            “Nuts and Butts” – no way.
            “Freaks and Cheeks” – still no good.
            “Loons and Moons” – forget it.
            Almost at their wit’s end, the docs finally came up with:
            “Dr. Smith and Dr. Jones -Specializing in Odds and Ends”
            .Everyone loved it.  
             (Hope you did too!)

            You and these haters of all things conservitive have a right to miss understand our founding Biblical rule of law roots and be as wrong as any one else I quess…Take care E…

          • ellinas1

            Some “all things conservative” are good, and some are bad.
            One has to embrace the good things and discard the bad ones.
            That is what I do with my “all things liberal”.
            Hell, I even embrace some of the “all things conservative”.

          • $8194357

            Liberal used to be a good thing E..communists usurped the Jefferson Libertarian limited governance Liberal with socialism/communism all things originate thru government since the 30’s infiltrations of the Non Partisains socistic movements and the communist structures of the union organizors..This isn;t Jeffersons version of democracy or our granparents understanding of the Democratic process any more E..By design the use of common lanquage used to instill and introduce the “party line” into the mainstream a decade at a time to see the inversion of top down from bottom up governance we were given…But “What the heck do I know right E..

        • The Whistler

           No going after him would have meant proving that Abramoff’s politician friends were dirty so Dorganoff and the rest didn’t get investigated.

          It doesn’t alter the facts. 

          • ellinas1

             Still no cookie for you.

      • $8194357

        For every 50 or 100 million he brought them he got a “nice” war bonnet tho…
        We will most likley have to fund the Lord Byron State honerary museum to house all his gifts from ND tribes and such..Oh wait..Didn’t he get an air port for all that “wealth redistribution” instead? Maybe uncle Earl and Comarade Kent could have their honors here on our dime instead? What ever happened to “the citizen legisators” when all we have now is ‘professional lobbiest’ and wealth redistribution paid water boys and girls..

  • cherz1967

    It starts with education and the education system on the reservations is woeful.  Couple poor education with rampant drug and alchohol abuse and you get generation after generation of poorly educated, drug and achohol dependent people whe continue to procreate.  No abortion clinics on the reservation.  Just stating the facts.

    • $8194357

      But how much “taxpayer” cash have the Democrats dumped into LBJ’s ‘War on Poverty” since the 60″s?
      Right into “corrupt social justice Democrats” pockets and the “soviet local 13″ unions who kick back up the ponzi to keep this “perpetual motion” money laundering slush funds wheels turning for the last 50 years.
      “Nothing as close to eternity here on earth as a “Temporary Federal” program…
      (My paraphrase)

    • The Whistler

       The teachers on the reservations are very well paid.  The schools may suck, but it’s not for a lack of money. 

  • yy4u2

    Stossel had a good article about an Indian tribe that wasn’t on the govt plantation…and was successful.

    • $8194357

      Successful weren’t they….

    • $8194357

      This will make the social justice leftist plantation overeers scream racism as well.
      After spending 40 or so years on an Indian Reservation, if the Natives have any hope at all to get out from under the government welfare yoke, they would be wise IMHO to embrace this as “dependency” to intoxicants are rampant within their “soverign’ boarders. All the 100’s of millions in “wellness” programs haven’t accomplished the tribes stated goals of self sufficiency and soverign independance..

      Plans to Drug Test Welfare Recipients Get Momentum
      Posted on February 26, 2012 by Cowboy Byte

      Conservatives who say welfare recipients should have to pass a drug test to receive government assistance have momentum on their side.

      The issue has come up in the Republican presidential campaign, with front-runner Mitt Romney saying it’s an “excellent idea.”

      Nearly two dozen states are considering plans this session that would make drug testing mandatory for welfare recipients according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And Wyoming lawmakers advanced such a proposal this week.

  • Jamermorrow

    Some people value material wealth differently than others. I have seen this among many different peoples around the world. For instance, many pacific islanders would be considered very poor. Yet they live on a tropical island and value family and leisure. How much money do you need when you live on a tropical island? I would only need a hut and enough money for cases of old mil reds. 

    • sbark

      so really…….pretty much like Obama’s half brother in Kenya who lives on maybe some 5.00/yr…….

      Obama could send him a 20.00 bill left over from a Ski trip or date nite……and it would quadruple his brothers income……

      ………but notice:  he doesnt

  • Jack Daniels

    This is only part of the picture.  Indians can qualify for the same welfare off the reservation – to to identify the entire population of people as among the poorest would take more identifying reservations.  The fact that Sioux County is nearly entirely reservation land is only part of the picture.  North Dakota’s other reservations have business enterprises which provide jobs.  However, few of those enterprises are actually on the reservation lands.  Native Americans wanting a better life don’t expect to find it on the reservation, but move to find a job. 

    I think the lesson here for us all is that a welfare state suppresses business development.  Worse, a willingness to depend on the welfare state for all sustenance discourages business development within that geographical territory.  I point to Detroit, MI or Camden, NJ.  So Obumble’s programs are only hurting most those who need a job the most to escape the cycle of poverty.