Lakota Page

This is an origional watercolor done by my friend J R Dailey

Lakota Page

The Great Sioux Nation

this site last updated 25 October 2008

Lakota Links

A Guide to the Great Sioux Nation link site updated 30 July 2004
Lakota Wowapi Oti Kin
Wounded Knee Homepage
Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe's Home Page link site updated 30 July 2004
Donald F. Montileaux (Yellowbird)Lakota Artist
Information on AIM and Lenard Peltier link site updated 30 July 2004
Lakota Literature and Biographies
Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community link site added 30 July 2004
Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska link site added 30 July 2004
Standing Rock
Standing Rock Sioux history
The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe link site added 30 July 2004
The Rosebud Sioux Tribe link site added 30 July 2004
Lakota Wisdom and Cultural Teaching link site added 30 July 2004

This is a talk I did on finding out about the different bands of the Sioux Nation.

The Sioux are used to portray all Native American tribes in Hollywood, anyone wanting to see a "real Indian" wants to see a war bonnet and a tipi. My own son included when he was six told his Grandfather who is 1/2 Cherokee that he wasn't a real Indian because he didn't have what Movie land decrees is a "real" Indian.Must be a difficult burden for them to bare with so much sterotyping involved. Though they have always been noted warriors, the strong sense of family shows a warmth that is not often portrade. The Lakota's that I have meet are a kind, gentle people with their loyalties to their friends and family extremly strong.

It is strange to tell people that even not all of the Sioux lived in tipis (the Sioux word for dwelling) , some were not as nomadic and only used the tipi during the time that they were on the buffalo hunts. Like our modern day tents used while camping others used the tipi at all times.

In this talk I will try to give you an overall view of the Sioux Nation so at least if you are looking for a branch of the tribe you will know what area to locate. Originally in the western Great lakes or Woodland area the subdivisions became more culturally distinctive from themselves after some divisions moved west wardly. The Sioux Nation is essentially comprise of three divisions, the Santee or Eastern Sioux (Dakota) with four groups, the Wiciyela, the Middle Sioux (Nakota or Yankton) with two groups, and the Teton (Lakotas).

In Minnesota there is the Shakopee Reservation, Lower Sioux Community, Prairie Island Sioux Reservation, and Upper Sioux Community. In Montana there is the Fort Peck Reservation. Nebraska is the home to the Santee Sioux Reservation. North Dakota has two bands of Sioux, the Devils Lake Sioux Reservation and Standing Rock Reservation. The main concentration however is in South Dakota including eight different reservations. The Cheyenne River Sioux, Crow Creek Sioux, Flandreau Santee Sioux, Lake Traverse, Lower Brule, Pine Ridge, Rosebud, and Yankton.

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux reservation is home to about 300 Indians, and tribal member ship is about 150. (All reservation except where noted were established in 1887, 1888, or 1889.) The Prairie Island Sioux reservation is also Mdewakanton Sioux is home to approximately 400.The Upper Sioux Reservation is home to the Mdewakanton, Sisseton And Santee Sioux with approximately 350 Tribal members. The Lower Sioux Reservation is own tribally it's 500 members. The Fort Peck Reservation was established for the Assinboine tribe when members of the Sioux nation sought refugee from the U. S. Cavalry. The Fort Peck agency was directed to treat them as residence so it has been that way ever since. The Santee Sioux tribe was established earlier than the other reservations in 1863 its tribal enrollment is approximately 2,200 with 500 members living on the reservation. The Devils Lake Sioux Reservation was established in 1867. Its population is about 3,800. The Standing Rock Sioux reservation extends mainly into South Dakota.

The Cheyenne River Sioux reservation has 10,800 deriving from four major bands- the Minnecojou, Sans Arc, Blackfoot and Two Kettle. Big Foot was a Minnecoujou chief who was a very wise leader and was killed under a white flag of truce at Wounded Knee. Arvol Looking Horse is also a member of this band he is the current keeper of the Sacred Pipe of the Great Sioux nation present by the White Calf Woman long ago. He is currently the leader in a movement to stop the sale of sacred pipestone.

The Flandreau Sioux Reservation established in 1934 with about 700 members. One was their past leader's was Chief Little Crow who spent much of his life in Minnesota where he was the head of the Santee band. He became a Chief around 1834 and sought justice for his people and tried to maintain relations with the whites. In 1862 he led the fight now know as the Minnesota Santee Conflict. It started after the federal government failed to present payment for land as promised. He died the following year.

The Crow Creek Reservation is one of the three parcels of land retained after the Treaty of Fort Laramie all Sioux lands of east of the Missouri River to the United States. There are 3,00 enrolled members of the tribe. Oscar Howe a pioneer in Indian arts was born there in 1915 and Elizabeth Cook-Lyn an Author and editor of the Wicazo Sa (Red Pencil) Review an intentional Native American studies' journal. She is also a traditional dancer on the powwow circuit. The Lake Traverse Reservation established in 1867. The tribal enrollment is about 9,300.

The Lower Brule Reservation has about 1,900 enrolled members of which about 1,000 members live on the Reservation. Their leader Chief Iron Nation (1815-1894) led the Lower Brule Sioux through difficult years and worked to ensure the survival of his people, he signed the treat to establish the reservation in 1868.

The Pine Ridge Reservation has a tribal enrollment estimated at 28,000 with about 20,500 living on the reservation and is the home to the Oglala Lakota Nation. Red Cloud was a respected warrior and diplomat for 1866-1868 he successfully led the fight to close the Bozeman trail that passed through prime buffalo hunting grounds. Once established at Pine Ridge he worked to establish a school for Indian children ran by the Jesuit. Billy Mills, the Olympic gold medal winner in Tokyo, 1964 was the first American to ever win the 10,000 meter race and was a Oglala Sioux.

The Rosebud Sioux Reservation is a part of the Teton division of the Sioux enrollment stands at over 15,500. Ben Reifle a five-term U. S. Member of Congress was born on the Rosebud reservation in 1906. He worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and received a doctoral degree from Harvard University. White Eagle is the first American Indian to sing lead in American musical theater and opera. The Yankton Sioux Reservation established in 1858. It spread over 400,00 acres with tribal land only amounting to 37,000 acres.

The word Sioux was given to them by the French who had corrupted the name Natawesiwak from the Chippewa (Ojibiwa), referring to them as "enemy" or "snake" (I have also heard reference to "cutthroat"). The name they gave themselves was Dakota meaning "friend" or "ally." Some authorities believe that the Siseton and Wahpetoan were two of the original Seven Council Fires. The "Oceti-Sakowin" included the following:

1.  Mdewakantonwan, Spirit Lake People
2.  Wahpekute, Shooters among the Leaves
3.  Sisseton, People of the Fish Ground (Sisseton)
4.  Wahpetonwan, Dwellers among the Leaves (Wahpeton)
5.  Ihanktonwana, Little Dwellers of the End (Yanktonais)
6.  Ihanktonwan, Dwellers of the End (village)(Yankton)
7.  Tetonwan, Dwellers on the Plains (Teton)

With tribal migration there were changes in the dialect and traditional customs. These are recognized as the Santee (Isanyati, dweller at the Knife lake) the Middle Dakota and the Teton. The three dialects are Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota. The Nakota is now almost extinct. All three dialects can understand each other, the differences being the initial consonant sound.

The Isanyan, in the Eastern dialect, means knife. Isanyanti (Santee) referring to the residence at a lake in Minnesota shaped like a knife. The Santee are similar to the Ojibwas and Winnibagos in dress and artifacts. The Middle Sioux, Wiciyela is a Teton term refers to the "speakers like men". After moving to the prairie, they influenced by the Mandan and the Arikara, their dress decorated with either floral patterns or bold geometrics. They were semi sedimentary, planting corn.

The Western or Teton division outnumbered all the other bands of the Sioux combined. Their principle subdivisions were known as the Seven Tents (Ti Sakowin). Especially among the Teton, the Tiosapaye were often independent of authority and Federal commissioners and agents. They basically have no traces of their past Woodland traits. Oglala means Scatter their Own. Sicangu means Burnt Thigh more commonly called by the French word for Burned, Brule. The people of the Rosebud Reservation are Heyata Wicasa (Highland People). Kulwicasa (Lowland People)of the Lower Brule Reservation in S. D. Hunkpapa (Campers at the Horn) Standing Rock Reservation mainly in S. D. and very small groups in Montana, and Wood Mountain Reserve in Saskatchewan. Mnikonju (Hohwojo) or Minneconjou (Plant Beside the River). Itazipco (Without Bows also called Sans Arcs, French for without bows) Cheyenne River Reservation. Sihasapa (Blackfeet not to be confused with the Algonquian Blackfeet of Montana and Canada) Cheyenne River Reservation and S. D. part of Standing Rock Reservation. Oohenonpa (Two Kettle) Cheyenne River Reservation.

The Tetons placed emphasis on warfare more than the other Sioux tribes. The Omaha society, derived from the Ponca, became popular through out the plains influencing the regalia and dance styles. Dresses, shirts, leggings pendants, necklaces, headdresses ( including the war bonnet) were notably colorful. The quill and beadwork are still almost exclusively geometric and have been copied by other tribes. Tribal exploits and records are preserved on skins, cloth and later paper paintings and drawings.

The Yankton Sioux were deeded land and exclusive rights to the Red Pipestone Quarry by the treaty of 1858.. After the treaty signed white settlers and a Railroad company began using the quarry. Federal acts weakened the treaty, all action by the Tribe, including a motion to the Supreme Court, were decided against them. In the Treaty they gave up a large percentage of their land in order to maintain peace and hold on to the separate land know for the stone using to make peace pipes, most often refereed to as Calvinite.

The Sun dance involved speculator self torture and drew such crowds that the federal Authorities and Indian Interest groups had it banned. Later revived by the Oglala and Sicangu in 1920's. The Horse Dance is also another of the ceremonies. Not considered as unwholesome authorities left it alone. The Sacred Calf Pipe is kept at the Cheyenne River Reservation by Arvol Looking Horse in a medicine bundle long revered. The presence of shamans or "medicine man" is still present among the Teton Sioux their ceremonies primarily used for curing. The Teton Chiefs also exercise more authority than those on the other divisions and the war societies.

The Sioux were in horror at the thought of placing there dead in the ground, in fear of that their souls would not escape. At first they used trees or scaffolds to elevate their dead, then they used above ground boxes, later adapting to the white way of burial. For along time afterwards they buried the coffin inside the shipping box. It was traditional to set about morning by wailing. Mourners could also be paid by family members.

When seeing old photographs of the Sioux, notably you will see very serious expressions on the faces. It is not solely to the seriousness of the times but also to the feelings that photography was a serious matter. To be photographed was an awesome experience, and demanded dignity.

The Sioux Nation suffered from some of the same problems of the other Indian nations. They originally had shared the land with whites, until they were overrun by them. They were forced on to the reservations and had to give up land time and time again. They have to suffer from the allotment of their lands in which the "remainder" was sold to whites, then when starving they were forced to sell of their allotted lands. They have had to deal with congressional acts that encouraged them to move away from the reservations, and have suffered deeply because of government politics.

The children of the Sioux upon entering Christian Schools were given whitemen clothes, the boy's haircuts, and Christian names. They were allowed to keep their father's names as surnames. The girls were not required to have hair cuts but instead of the traditional two braids they were required to braid it into one braid down their backs. Some examples of this are in the book Discovering Columbus by the Smithsonian Institute. When going to these schools they would upon entry take pictures of the children in Native dress then cut their hair and put them in whitemen's clothing and take a picture. Often these children were beaten when speaking there Native langauge, so quickly they learned to forget. When coming back to the Reservations they could no longer communicate with even their own family members most of the time. These children were outsiders even in there own lands. Often children were adopted out of these school to white families without parental consent.

The Sioux and all the Plains Tribes were hit deeply also by adoption of Indian children to white adoptive parents. The severity is notable due to the fact that the government set up the Indian Children's Welfare Act in 1978. I encourage you to try to take the time to look on the internet at the Links I have above but especially the Lost Bird homepage.

If anyone else would like to add anything to these pages please contact me.

Go back to main page

You can reach me by e-mail Email