Red Scaffold

The isolated township of Red Scaffold, SD – 12 miles west of Rte 73, got its name from a traditional Lakota burial scaffold. Some stay it was painted red. Others, according to a book of Ziebach County local history, say a red blanket was used to honor the dead leader whose departure from this world was marked thereafter. The town, which was three days walk from the nearest government station for food supplies, in the westernmost reaches of the then 3,000,000 acre Cheyenne River Lakota Nation, was settled after Sitting Bull and Hump led their people back from Canada in 1881, but members of those bands, as well as by survivors of the 1890 massacre of Bigfoot’s band of Hunkpapa and Minneconjou at Wounded Knee. Ziebach County remains the poorest county in not only South Dakota but also the entire United States, so- called.
According to the Ziebach County History (1982) the people settled at Red Scaffold to be as far away from White influence as possible.
The Dawes Act and presidential proclamation opened “unentered” Native Nation Treaty Lands around here to white homesteaders in 1910. That is when the nearby town of Faith, and many other white ranching communities were carved out of the Lakota lands, despite the original treaty guarantees of perpetual use and enjoyment.


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