|Regions with significant populations|
|US: (SD, MN, NE, MT, ND, IA, WI, IL, WY)
Canada: (MB, SK)
|Sioux language (Lakota, Western Dakota, Eastern Dakota), Assiniboine, Stoney, English|
|Christianity (incl. syncretistic forms), traditional religion|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Assiniboine, Dakota, Lakota, Nakoda (Stoney), and other Siouan-speaking peoples|
The Sioux also known as lakota, are groups of Native American tribes and First Nations peoples in North America. The term can refer to any ethnic group within the Great Sioux Nation or to any of the nation's many language dialects. The Sioux comprise three major divisions based on language divisions: the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota.
The Santee Dakota (Isá?yathi; "Knife") reside in the extreme east of the Dakotas, Minnesota and northern Iowa. The Yankton and Yanktonai Dakota (Ihá?kt?u?wa? and Ihá?kt?u?wa?na; "Village-at-the-end" and "Little village-at-the-end"), collectively also referred to by the endonym Wi?híyena, reside in the Minnesota River area. They are considered to be the middle Sioux, and have in the past been erroneously classified as Nakota. The actual Nakota are the Assiniboine and Stoney of Western Canada and Montana. The Lakota, also called Teton (Thít?u?wa?; possibly "Dwellers on the prairie"), are the westernmost Sioux, known for their hunting and warrior culture.
Today, the Sioux maintain many separate tribal governments scattered across several reservations, communities, and reserves in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Montana in the United States; and Manitoba, southern Saskatchewan, and Alberta in Canada.
The name "Sioux" was adopted in English by the 1760s from French. It is abbreviated from Nadouessioux, first attested by Jean Nicolet in 1640. The name is sometimes said to be derived from an Ojibwe exonym for the Sioux meaning "little snakes" (compare nadowe "big snakes", used for the Iroquois). The spelling in -x is due to the French plural marker. The Proto-Algonquian form *na·towe·wa, meaning "Northern Iroquoian", has reflexes in several daughter languages that refer to a small rattlesnake (massasauga, Sistrurus). An alternative explanation is derivation from an (Algonquian) exonym na·towe·ssiw (plural na·towe·ssiwak), from a verb *-a·towe· meaning "to speak a foreign language". The current Ojibwe term for the Sioux and related groups is Bwaanag (singular Bwaan), meaning "roasters". Presumably, this refers to the style of cooking the Sioux used in the past.
Some of the tribes have formally or informally adopted traditional names: the Rosebud Sioux Tribe is also known as the Si?háu Oyáte, and the Oglala often use the name Oglála Lak?óta Oyáte, rather than the English "Oglala Sioux Tribe" or OST. The alternative English spelling of Ogallala is considered improper.
The historical Sioux referred to the Great Sioux Nation as the O?héthi ?akówi? (pronounced [o'tet?i ?a'kow?]), meaning "Seven Council Fires". Each fire was a symbol of an oyate (people or nation). The seven nations that comprise the Sioux are: Bdewáka?thu?wa? (Mdewakanton), Wa?péthu?wa? (Wahpeton), Wa?pékhute (Wahpekute), Sisíthu?wa? (Sisseton), the Ihá?kthu?wa? (Yankton), Ihá?kthu?wa?na (Yanktonai), and the Thít?u?wa? (Teton or Lakota). The Seven Council Fires would assemble each summer to hold council, renew kinships, decide tribal matters, and participate in the Sun Dance. The seven divisions would select four leaders known as Wi?há?a Yatápika from among the leaders of each division. Being one of the four leaders was considered the highest honor for a leader; however, the annual gathering meant the majority of tribal administration was cared for by the usual leaders of each division. The last meeting of the Seven Council Fires was in 1850.
Today the Teton, Santee (mixture of the four Dakota tribes) and the Minnesota Dakota, and Yankton/Yanktonai are usually known, respectively, as the Lakota, Eastern Dakota, or Western Dakota. In any of the three main dialects, Lakota or Dakota translate to mean "friend" or "ally", referring to the alliance that once bound the Great Sioux Nation.
The Dakota are first recorded to have resided at the source of the Mississippi River during the seventeenth century. By 1700 some had migrated to present-day South Dakota. Late in the 17th century, the Dakota entered into an alliance with French merchants. The French were trying to gain advantage in the struggle for the North American fur trade against the English, who had recently established the Hudson's Bay Company.
The first recorded encounter between the Sioux and the French occurred when Radisson and Groseilliers reached what is now Wisconsin during the winter of 1659-60. Later visiting French traders and missionaries included Claude-Jean Allouez, Daniel Greysolon Duluth, and Pierre-Charles Le Sueur who wintered with Dakota bands in early 1700. In 1736 a group of Sioux killed Jean Baptiste de La Vérendrye and twenty other men on an island in Lake of the Woods. However, trade with the French continued until after the French gave up North America in 1763.
Author and historian Mark van de Logt wrote: "Although military historians tend to reserve the concept of "total war" for conflicts between modern industrial nations, the term nevertheless most closely approaches the state of affairs between the Pawnees and the Sioux and Cheyennes. Both sides directed their actions not solely against warrior-combatants but against the people as a whole. Noncombatants were legitimate targets. ... It is within this context that the military service of the Pawnee Scouts must be viewed."
By 1862, shortly after a failed crop the year before and a winter starvation, the federal payment was late. The local traders would not issue any more credit to the Santee and one trader, Andrew Myrick, went so far as to say, "If they're hungry, let them eat grass." On August 17, 1862 the Dakota War began when a few Santee men murdered a white farmer and most of his family. They inspired further attacks on white settlements along the Minnesota River. The Santee attacked the trading post. Later settlers found Myrick among the dead with his mouth stuffed full of grass.
On November 5, 1862 in Minnesota, in courts-martial, 303 Santee Sioux were found guilty of rape and murder of hundreds of American settlers. They were sentenced to be hanged. No attorneys or witnesses were allowed as a defense for the accused, and many were convicted in less than five minutes of court time with the judge. President Abraham Lincoln commuted the death sentences of 284 of the warriors, while signing off on the hanging of 38 Santee men on December 26, 1862 in Mankato, Minnesota. It was the largest mass-execution in U.S. history, on US soil.
Afterwards, the US suspended treaty annuities to the Dakota for four years and awarded the money to the white victims and their families. The men remanded by order of President Lincoln were sent to a prison in Iowa, where more than half died.
During and after the revolt, many Santee and their kin fled Minnesota and Eastern Dakota to Canada, or settled in the James River Valley in a short-lived reservation before being forced to move to Crow Creek Reservation on the east bank of the Missouri. A few joined the Yanktonai and moved further west to join with the Lakota bands to continue their struggle against the United States military.
Others were able to remain in Minnesota and the east, in small reservations existing into the 21st century, including Sisseton-Wahpeton, Flandreau, and Devils Lake (Spirit Lake or Fort Totten) Reservations in the Dakotas. Some ended up in Nebraska, where the Santee Sioux Reservation today has a reservation on the south bank of the Missouri.
Those who fled to Canada now have descendants residing on nine small Dakota Reserves, five of which are located in Manitoba (Sioux Valley, Long Plain, Dakota Tipi, Birdtail Creek, and Oak Lake [Pipestone]) and the remaining four (Standing Buffalo, Moose Woods [White Cap], Round Plain [Wahpeton], and Wood Mountain) in Saskatchewan.
Red Cloud's War (also referred to as the Bozeman War) was an armed conflict between the Lakota and the United States Army in the Wyoming Territory and the Montana Territory from 1866 to 1868. The war was fought over control of the Powder River Country in north central Wyoming.
The war is named after Red Cloud, a prominent Sioux chief who led the war against the United States following encroachment into the area by the U.S. military. The war ended with the Treaty of Fort Laramie. The Sioux victory in the war led to their temporarily preserving their control of the Powder River country.
The Great Sioux War of 1876 comprised a series of battles between the Lakota and allied tribes such as the Cheyenne against the United States military. The earliest engagement was the Battle of Powder River, and the final battle was the Wolf Mountain. Included are the Battle of the Rosebud, Battle of the Little Bighorn, Battle of Warbonnet Creek, Battle of Slim Buttes, Battle of Cedar Creek, and the Dull Knife Fight. The Great Sioux War of 1876-77 was also known as the Black Hills War, and was centered on the Lakota tribes of the Sioux, although several[who?] natives believe that the primary target of the United States military was the Northern Cheyenne tribe. The series of battles occurred in Montana territory, Dakota territory, and Wyoming territory, and resulted in a victory for the United States military.
The massacre at Wounded Knee Creek was the last major armed conflict between the Lakota and the United States. It was described as a "massacre" by General Nelson A. Miles in a letter to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
On December 29, 1890, five hundred troops of the 7th Cavalry Regiment, supported by four Hotchkiss guns (a lightweight artillery piece capable of rapid fire), surrounded an encampment of the Lakota bands of the Miniconjou and Hunkpapa with orders to escort them to the railroad for transport to Omaha, Nebraska.
By the time it was over, 25 troopers and more than 150 Lakota Sioux lay dead, including men, women, and children. It remains unknown which side was responsible for the first shot; some of the soldiers are believed to have been the victims of "friendly fire" because the shooting took place at point-blank range in chaotic conditions. Around 150 Lakota are believed to have fled the chaos, many of whom may have died from hypothermia.
In the late 19th century, railroads wanted to build tracks through Indian lands. The railroad companies hired hunters to exterminate the bison herds, the Plains Indians' primary food supply. The Dakota and Lakota were forced to accept US-defined reservations in exchange for the rest of their lands and farming and ranching of domestic cattle, as opposed to a nomadic, hunting economy. During the first years of the Reservation Era, the Sioux people depended upon annual federal payments guaranteed by treaty for survival.
Today, half of all enrolled Sioux in the United States live off reservation. Enrolled members in any of the Sioux tribes in the United States are required to have ancestry that is at least 1/4 degree Sioux (the equivalent to one grandparent).
|Fort Peck Indian Reservation||Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes||Hunkpapa, Upper Yanktonai (Pabaksa), Sisseton, Wahpeton, and the Hudesabina (Red Bottom), Wadopabina (Canoe Paddler), Wadopahnatonwan (Canoe Paddlers Who Live on the Prairie), Sahiyaiyeskabi (Plains Cree-Speakers), Inyantonwanbina (Stone People), and Fat Horse Band of the Assiniboine||Montana, US|
|Spirit Lake Reservation
(Formerly Devil's Lake Reservation)
|Spirit Lake Tribe
(Mni Wakan Oyate)
|Wahpeton, Sisseton, Upper Yanktonai||North Dakota, US|
|Standing Rock Indian Reservation||Standing Rock Sioux Tribe||Upper Yanktonai, Hunkpapa||North Dakota, South Dakota, US|
|Lake Traverse Indian Reservation||Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate||Sisseton, Wahpeton||South Dakota, US|
|Flandreau Indian Reservation||Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe||Mdewakanton, Wahpekute, Wahpeton||South Dakota, US|
|Cheyenne River Indian Reservation||Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe||Minneconjou, Blackfoot, Two Kettle, Sans Arc||South Dakota, US|
|Crow Creek Indian Reservation||Crow Creek Sioux Tribe||Lower Yanktonai||South Dakota, US|
|Lower Brule Indian Reservation||Lower Brule Sioux Tribe||Brulé||South Dakota, US|
|Yankton Sioux Indian Reservation||Yankton Sioux Tribe||Yankton||South Dakota, US|
|Pine Ridge Indian Reservation||Oglala Lakota||Oglala, few Brulé||South Dakota, US|
|Rosebud Indian Reservation||Rosebud Sioux Tribe (also as Sicangu Lakota or Upper Brulé Sioux Nation)
|Si?angu (Brulé), few Oglala||South Dakota, US|
|Upper Sioux Indian Reservation||Upper Sioux Community
|Mdewakanton, Sisseton, Wahpeton||Minnesota, US|
|Lower Sioux Indian Reservation||Lower Sioux Indian Community||Mdewakanton, Wahpekute||Minnesota, US|
|Shakopee-Mdewakanton Indian Reservation
(Formerly Prior Lake Indian Reservation)
|Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community||Mdewakanton, Wahpekute||Minnesota, US|
|Prairie Island Indian Community||Prairie Island Indian Community||Mdewakanton, Wahpekute||Minnesota, US|
|Santee Indian Reservation||Santee Sioux Nation||Mdewakanton, Wahpekute||Nebraska, US|
|Sioux Valley Dakota Nation Reserve, Fishing Station 62A Reserve*||Sioux Valley First Nation||Sisseton, Mdewakanton, Wahpeton, Wahpekute||Manitoba, Canada|
|Dakota Plains Indian Reserve 6A||Dakota Plains First Nation||Wahpeton, Sisseton||Manitoba, Canada|
|Dakota Tipi 1 Reserve||Dakota Tipi First Nation||Wahpeton||Manitoba, Canada|
|Birdtail Creek 57 Reserve, Birdtail Hay Lands 57A Reserve, Fishing Station 62A Reserve*||Birdtail Sioux First Nation||Mdewakanton, Wahpekute, Yanktonai||Manitoba, Canada|
|Canupawakpa Dakota First Nation, Oak Lake 59A Reserve, Fishing Station 62A Reserve*||Canupawakpa Dakota First Nation||Wahpekute, Wahpeton, Yanktonai||Manitoba, Canada|
|Standing Buffalo 78 Reserve||Standing Buffalo Dakota First Nation||Sisseton, Wahpeton||Saskatchewan, Canada|
|Whitecap Reserve||Whitecap Dakota First Nation||Wahpeton, Sisseton||Saskatchewan, Canada|
|Wood Mountain 160 Reserve, Treaty Four Reserve Grounds Indian Reserve No. 77*||Wood Mountain||Assiniboine (Nakota), Hunkpapa||Saskatchewan, Canada|
The Wounded Knee incident began February 27, 1973 when the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota was seized by followers of the American Indian Movement. The occupiers controlled the town for 71 days while various state and federal law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Marshals Service laid siege. Two members of A.I.M. were killed by gunfire during the incident.
The Lakota Freedom Delegation, a group of controversial Native American activists, declared on December 19, 2007 the Lakota were withdrawing from all treaties signed with the United States to regain sovereignty over their nation. One of the activists, Russell Means, claimed that the action is legal and cites natural, international and US law. The group considers Lakota to be a sovereign nation, although as yet the state is generally unrecognized. The proposed borders reclaim thousands of square kilometres of North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska and Montana.
The Lakota made national news when NPR's "Lost Children, Shattered Families investigative story aired. It exposed what many critics consider to be the "kidnapping" of Lakota children from their homes by the state of South Dakota's Department of Social Services (D.S.S.). Lakota activists such as Madonna Thunder Hawk and Chase Iron Eyes, along with the People's Law Project, have alleged that Lakota grandmothers are illegally denied the right to foster their own grandchildren. They are currently working to redirect federal funding away from the state of South Dakota's D.S.S. to new tribal foster care programs. This would be a historic shift away from the state's traditional control over Lakota foster children.
In early 2014 a Lakota group launched MazaCoin, a digital currency that is claimed to be the "national currency of the traditional Lakota Nation".
In the summer of 2016, Sioux Indians and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe began a protest against construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, also known as the Bakken pipeline, which, if completed, is designed to carry hydrofracked crude oil from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota to the oil storage and transfer hub of Patoka, Illinois. The pipeline travels only half a mile north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and is designed to pass underneath the Missouri River and upstream of the reservation, causing many concerns over the tribe's drinking water safety, environmental protection, and harmful impacts on culture. The pipeline company claims that the pipeline will provide jobs, reduce American dependence on foreign oil and reduce the price of gas.
The conflict sparked a nationwide debate and much news media coverage. Thousands of indigenous and non-indigenous supporters joined the protest, and several camp sites were set up south of the construction zone. The protest was peaceful, and alcohol, drugs and firearms were not allowed at the campsite or the protest site. On August 23, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe released a list of 87 tribal governments who wrote resolutions, proclamations and letters of support stating their solidarity with Standing Rock and the Sioux people. Since then, many more Native American organizations, environmental groups and civil rights groups have joined the effort in North Dakota, including the Black Lives Matter movement, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the 2016 Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate Ajamu Baraka, and many more.The Washington Post called it a "National movement for Native Americans."
The historical political organization was based on individual participation and the cooperation of many to sustain the tribe's way of life. Leaders were chosen based upon noble birth and demonstrations of chiefly virtues, such as bravery, fortitude, generosity, and wisdom.
The Sioux tribe, like many North American tribal religions, "were performative, oral, and variable within each community as each generation drew upon its tradition in order to create its own religious forms, derived from experience". "Aboriginal Indian Religions, North of Mexico, were locally produced modes of relationships between communities of associated individuals and their ultimate sources of life... wind, sun, thunderers, animals, corn, etc". Sioux Nation religious beliefs revolve around the Wakan Tanka, which is synonymous with the Great Spirit. Two of their central religious ceremonies are the Sun Dance and the Ghost Dance. The Sioux Nation was one of the few Native American peoples who practiced the Sun Dance and the Ghost Dance.
The Sioux comprise three closely related language groups:
The earlier linguistic three-way division of the Sioux language identified Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota as dialects of a single language, where Lakota = Teton, Dakota = Santee-Sisseton and Nakota = Yankton-Yanktonai. However, the latest studies show that Yankton-Yanktonai never used the autonym Nakhóta, but pronounced their name roughly the same as the Santee (i.e. Dak?óta).
These later studies identify Assiniboine and Stoney as two separate languages, with Sioux being the third language. Sioux has three similar dialects: Lakota, Western Dakota (Yankton-Yanktonai) and Eastern Dakota (Santee-Sisseton). Assiniboine and Stoney speakers refer to themselves as Nakhóta or Nakhóda (cf. Nakota).
The term Dakota has also been applied by anthropologists and governmental departments to refer to all Sioux groups, resulting in names such as Teton Dakota, Santee Dakota, etc. This was mainly because of the misrepresented translation of the Ottawa word from which Sioux is derived.
The Sioux maintain many separate tribal governments scattered across several reservations and communities in North America: in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Montana in the United States; and in Manitoba, southern Saskatchewan and Alberta in Canada.
The earliest known European record of the Sioux identified them in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. After the introduction of the horse in the early 18th century, the Sioux dominated larger areas of land--from present day Central Canada to the Platte River, from Minnesota to the Yellowstone River, including the Powder River country.
The Santee migrated north and westward from the Southeastern United States, first into Ohio, then to Minnesota. Some came up from the Santee River and Lake Marion, area of South Carolina. The Santee River was named after them, and some of their ancestors' ancient earthwork mounds have survived along the portion of the dammed-up river that forms Lake Marion. In the past, they were a Woodland people who thrived on hunting, fishing and farming.
Migrations of Ojibwe from the east in the 17th and 18th centuries, with muskets supplied by the French and British, pushed the Dakota further into Minnesota and west and southward. The US gave the name "Dakota Territory" to the northern expanse west of the Mississippi River and up to its headwaters.
The Ihá?kthu?wa?-Ihá?kthu?wa?na, also known by the anglicized spelling Yankton (Ihá?kthu?wa?: "End village") and Yanktonai (Ihá?kthu?wa?na: "Little end village") divisions consist of two bands or two of the seven council fires. According to Nasunatanka and Matononpa in 1880, the Yanktonai are divided into two sub-groups known as the Upper Yanktonai and the Lower Yanktonai (Hunkpatina).
The Sioux likely obtained horses sometime during the seventeenth century (although some historians date the arrival of horses in South Dakota to 1720, and credit the Cheyenne with introducing horse culture to the Lakota). The Teton (Lakota) division of the Sioux emerged as a result of this introduction. Dominating the northern Great Plains with their light cavalry, the western Sioux quickly expanded their territory further to the Rocky Mountains (which they call Heska, "white mountains"). The Lakota once subsisted on the bison hunt, and on corn. They acquired corn mostly through trade with the eastern Sioux and their linguistic cousins, the Mandan and Hidatsa along the Missouri River. The name Teton or Thít?u?wa? is archaic among the people, who prefer to call themselves Lak?óta.
The Sioux are divided into three ethnic groups, the larger of which are divided into sub-groups, and further branched into bands.
Today, many Sioux also live outside their reservations.
Contemporary Sioux people are listed under the tribes to which they belong.