Sioux (pronounced SUE) are a Native American and First Nations people. The term can refer to any ethnic group within the Great Sioux Nation or any of the nation's many dialects. The Sioux comprise three major divisions based on dialect and subculture:
Today, the Sioux maintain many separate tribal governments scattered across several reservations, communities, and reserves in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Nebraska, and also in Manitoba and southern Saskatchewan in Canada.
The historical Sioux referred to the Great Sioux Nation as the Oceti Sakowin (Očhéti Šakówį [oˈtʃʰetʰi ʃaˈkʰowĩ]), meaning "Seven Council Fires". Each fire was symbolic of an oyate (people or nation). The seven nations that comprise the Sioux are: Mdewakanton, Wahpetowan (Wahpeton), Wahpekute, Sissetowan (Sisseton), the Ihantowan (Yankton), Ihanktowana (Yanktonai), and the Teton (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 Wicasa Yatapicka 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, Isanti, or Ihantowan/Ihanktowana are usually known as either the Lakota, Dakota, or Nakota respectively. In any of the three main dialects, "Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota" all translate to mean "friend," or more properly, "ally." Usage of Lakota, Dakota, or Nakota may then refer to the alliance that once bound the Great Sioux Nation together.
Political leaders were members of the Naca Ominicia society and decided matters of tribal hunts, camp movements, whether to make war or peace with their neighbors, or any other community action. Societies were similar to fraternities; men joined to raise their position in the tribe. Societies were composed of smaller clans and varied in number among the seven divisions. There were two types of societies: Akicita, for the younger men, and Naca, for elders and former leaders.
Akicita ("Warrior") societies existed to train warriors, hunters, and to police the community. There were many smaller Akicita societies, including the Kit-Fox, Strong Heart, Elk, and so on. Leaders in the Naca societies, per Naca Ominicia, were the tribal elders and leaders, who would elect seven to ten men, depending on the division, each referred to as Wicasa Itancan ("chief man"). Each Wicasa Itancan interpreted and enforced the decisions of the Naca.
The Wicasa Itancan would elect two to four Shirt Wearers who were the voice of the society. They settled quarrels among families and also foreign nations. Shirt Wearers were often young men from families with hereditary claims of leadership. However, men with obscure parents who displayed outstanding leaderships skills and had earned the respect of the community might also be elected. Crazy Horse is an example of a common-born "Shirt Wearer".
A Wakincuza ("Pipe Holder") ranked below the "Shirt Wearers". The Pipe Holders regulated peace ceremonies, selected camp locations, and supervised the Akicita societies during buffalo hunts.
Some of the tribes have formally or informally adopted traditional names: the Rosebud Sioux Tribe is also known as the Sicangu Oyate, and the Oglala often use the name Oglala Lakota Oyate, rather than the English "Oglala Sioux Tribe" or OST. (The alternative English spelling of Ogallala is considered improper).
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 supposedly meaning "snake."
The earliest known European record of the Sioux was in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Furthermore, after the introduction of the horse, the Sioux dominated larger areas of land—from present day Canada to the Platte River, from Minnesota to the Yellowstone River, including the Powder River country.
In Canada, the Canadian government recognizes the tribal community as "First Nations." The land-holdings of the these First Nations are called "Reserves".
|Fort Peck Indian Reservation||Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes||Hunkpapa, Upper Yanktonai (known as the Cut Head; Pabaksa), Mdewakantonwan, Wahpekute, Sisseton, Wahpeton, Assiniboine (Canoe Paddler, Red Bottom)||Montana, USA|
|Spirit Lake Reservation (Formerly Devil's Lake Reservation)||Spirit Lake Tribe (Mni Wakan Oyate)||Wahpeton, Sisseton, Upper Yanktonai||North Dakota, USA|
|Standing Rock Indian Reservation||Standing Rock Sioux Tribe||Upper Yanktonai, Hunkpapa, Blackfoot||North Dakota, South Dakota, USA|
|Lake Traverse Indian Reservation||Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate||Sisseton, Wahpeton||South Dakota, USA|
|Flandreau Indian Reservation||Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe||Mdewakanton, Wahpekute, Wahpeton||South Dakota, USA|
|Cheyenne River Indian Reservation||Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe||Minneconjou, Blackfoot, Two Kettle, Sans Arc||South Dakota, USA|
|Crow Creek Indian Reservation||Crow Creek Sioux Tribe||Lower Yanktonai||South Dakota, USA|
|Lower Brule Indian Reservation||Lower Brule Sioux Tribe||Brulé||South Dakota, USA|
|Yankton Sioux Indian Reservation||Yankton Sioux Tribe||Yankton||South Dakota, USA|
|Pine Ridge Indian Reservation||Oglala Sioux Tribe||Oglala, few Brulé||South Dakota, USA|
|Rosebud Indian Reservation||Rosebud Sioux Tribe (also as Sicangu Lakota or Upper Brulé Sioux Nation) (Sićangu Oyate)||Sićangu, few Oglala||South Dakota, USA|
|Upper Sioux Indian Reservation||Upper Sioux Community (Pejuhutazizi Oyate)||Mdewakanton, Sisseton, Wahpeton||Minnesota, USA|
|Lower Sioux Indian Reservation||Lower Sioux Indian Community||Mdewakanton, Wahpekute||Minnesota, USA|
|Shakopee-Mdewakanton Indian Reservation (Formerly Prior Lake Indian Reservation)||Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community||Mdewakanton, Wahpekute||Minnesota, USA|
|Prairie Island Indian Community||Prairie Island Indian Community||Mdewakanton, Wahpekute||Minnesota, USA|
|Mille Lacs Lake Indian Reservation||Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe (Mille Lacs Indians, St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Minnesota)||Ojibwa, Mdewakanton||Minnesota, USA|
|St. Croix Indian Reservation||St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin||Ojibwa, Mdewakanton||Wisconsin, USA|
|Santee Indian Reservation||Santee Sioux Nation||Mdewakanton, Wahpekute||Nebraska, USA|
|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 Wahpeton 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 Reserve, Oak Lake 59A Reserve, Fishing Station 62A Reserve*||Canupawakpa Dakota 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|
|Dakota Plains Wahpeton First Nation||Wahpeton||Saskatchewan, Canada|
|Wood Mountain 160 Reserve, Treaty Four Reserve Grounds Indian Reservation 77*||Wood Mountain||Hunkpapa||Saskatchewan, Canada|
|Carry the Kettle Nakota First Nation Indian Reserves, Assiniboine 76 Reserve, Treaty Four Reserve Grounds Indian Reservation 77*||Carry the Kettle First Nation||Assiniboine||Saskatchewan, Canada|
|Little Black Bear 84 Reserve, Treaty Four Reserve Grounds Indian Reservation 77*||Little Black Bear Cree-Assiniboine First Nation||Cree, Assiniboine||Saskatchewan, Canada|
|Mosquito 109 Reserve, Grizzly Bear's Head 110 & Lean Man 111 Reserves, Mosquito, Grizzly Bear's Head, Lean Man Treaty Land Entitlement Indian Reserve 1, Golden Eagle Indian Reserve||Mosquito, Grizzly Bears Head, Lean Man First Nations (Mosquito, Grizzly Bear's Head, Lean Man)||Assiniboine, Cree||Saskatchewan, Canada|
|White Bear 70 Reserve, Treaty Four Reserve Grounds Indian Reservation 77*||White Bear First Nation||Assiniboine, Cree, Ojibwa||Saskatchewan, Canada|
|Stoney 142-143-144 Reserves, Stoney 142B Reserve, Big Horn 144A Reserve, Eden Valley 216 Reserve||Bearpaw, Chiniki and Wesley||Stoney||Alberta, Canada|
When 1862 arrived 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 tell them that they were 'free to eat grass or their own dung'. As a result, on August 17, 1862 the Dakota War began when a few Santee men murdered a white farmer and most of his family, igniting further attacks on white settlements along the Minnesota River. The Santee then attacked the trading post, and Myrick was later found 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 and were sentenced to be hanged. No attorneys or witness 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 remanded the death sentence of 284 of the warriors, signing off on the execution of 39 Santee men by hanging on December 26, 1862 in Mankato, Minnesota, the largest mass-execution in U.S. history.
Afterwards, annuities to the Dakota were suspended for four years and the money was awarded to the white victims. The men who were pardoned by 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 eventually in Nebraska, where the Santee Sioux Tribe today has a reservation on the south bank of the Missouri. Those who fled to Canada now have descendants residing on eight small Dakota Reserves, four 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.
The war is named after Red Cloud, a prominent Oglala 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, resulting in a complete victory for the Sioux and the temporary preservation of their control of the Powder River country.
The Battle at Wounded Knee Creek was the last major armed conflict between the Lakota and the United States, subsequently 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 U.S. 7th Cavalry, 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. 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.
Usage of the Ghost Dance reportedly instigated the massacre.
Later in the 19th century, as the railroads hired hunters to exterminate the buffalo herds, their primary food supply, the Santee and Lakota were forced to accept white-defined reservations in exchange for the rest of their lands, and domestic cattle and corn in exchange for buffalo, becoming dependent upon annual federal payments guaranteed by treaty. In Minnesota, the treaties of Traverse des Sioux and Mendota in 1851 left the Sioux with a reservation twenty miles (32 km) wide on each side of the Minnesota River.
Several Midwestern municipalities utilize Sioux in their names, including Sioux City, Iowa, Sioux Center, Iowa, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Midwestern rivers include the Little Sioux River in Iowa and Big Sioux River along the Iowa/South Dakota border.
Many smaller towns and geographic features in the northern Great Plains retain their Sioux names (some are heavily Anglicized) or English translations of those names. These are: Wasta (from "Waste" meaning "good"), Owanka, Oacoma, Rapid City (Mne luza: "cataract" or "rapids"), Sioux Falls/Minnehaha County (Mne haha: "waterfall"), Inyan Kara, Sisseton (derived from the orgiinal tribal name "Sissetowan"), Winona ("first daughter"), etc.
The University of North Dakota's athletic team is known as the "Fighting Sioux." While there is a local desire to retain the mascot, numerous Sioux tribes have issued resolutions asking the university to abolish it.
The name Nebraska comes from the related Chiwere language of the Siouan language family. Furthermore, the names of the states Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri derive from the names of other tribes within the Siouan language family: Kansa, Iowa, and Missouri, respectively. The names of the cities of Omaha, Nebraska and Ponca City, Oklahoma also derive from the Omaha and Ponca tribes. The names vividly demonstrate the wide dispersion of the Siouan language family across the Midwestern United States. Though they are considered part of the Siouan language family, none of these tribes or their languages are considered Sioux.