What Are Some Facts About the Dakota Indian Tribe?

The term Dakota refers to a dialect of Siouxan language and to a group of people. The word itself means “ally.” The Dakota, Nakota and Lakota tribes are also known as Sioux. The Dakota Tribe is comprised of two groups. The Santee, or Eastern, Dakota lived primarily in present-day Minnesota, and the Western Dakota resided in what are now North and South Dakota. The Dakota were nomadic hunters and farmers, cultivating crops such as corn during the warm seasons.

Dakota people lived in tents made with buffalo hide called tipis, or teepees. When they changed locations, the Dakota would pack their houses with them. They also used buffalo hide to make robes during the cold winters, while they used deerskin and elkskin to create dresses, moccasins and breechcloths. They traded buffalo hide with other tribes of the Great Plains such as the Arikara. The Dakota frequently fought with the Assiniboine, Ojibwe and Kiowa Indians. The name “Sioux” comes from the Ojibwe term for the Dakota tribes.

In 1804, the Sioux came in contact with Lewis and Clark during their expedition. Further exploration and eventual settlement resulted in a series of Fort Laramie treaties in 1851, which limited the territory of the Sioux tribes, including the Dakota people. In 1862, a mass execution took place in Mankato, MN, and two years following, the 1864 Massacre at Sand Creek occurred.