THE SIOUX: (pronounced /ˈsuː/) 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:
* Isanti ("Knife," originating from the name of a lake in present-day Minnesota): residing in the extreme east of the Dakotas, Minnesota, and northern Iowa, and are often referred to as the Santee or Dakota.
* Ihanktowan-Ihanktowana ("Village-at-the-end" and "little village-at-the-end"): residing in the Minnesota River area, they are considered to be the middle Sioux, and are often referred to as the Yankton or Nakota.
* Teton or Tetonwan (uncertain, perhaps "Dwellers on the Prairie"): the westernmost Sioux, known for their hunting and warrior culture, and are often referred to as the Lakota.
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.
The historical political organization was based on the participation of individuals and the cooperation of many to sustain the tribe’s way of life. Leaders were chosen based upon noble birth and demonstrations of bravery, fortitude, generosity, and wisdom.
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.
The Sioux likely obtained horses sometime during the seventeenth century (although some historians date the arrival of horses in South Dakota to 1720). 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 (or Heska, "white mountains"). The Lakota once subsided on the buffalo hunt and corn-trade with the eastern Sioux and their linguistic cousins the Mandan and Hidatsa along the Missouri.
Alliance with French fur merchants
Late in the 17th century, the Dakota entered into an alliance with French merchants, who 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 Dakota were thus lured into the European economic system and the bloody inter-aboriginal warfare that stemmed from it.
Dakota War of 1862
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.
Red Cloud's War
Red Cloud's War (also referred to as the Bozeman War) was an armed conflict between the Lakota and the United States 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, which lay along the Bozeman Trail, a primary access route to the Montana gold fields.
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.
Black Hills War
Between 1876 and 1877, the Black Hills War took place. The Lakota and their allies fought against the United States military in a series of conflicts. The earliest being the Battle of Powder River, and the final battle being at 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.
Wounded Knee Massacre
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.
Wounded Knee incident
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 the U.S. Marshals Service laid siege.
Republic of Lakotah
The Lakotah Freedom Delegation, a group of Native American activists, declared on December 19, 2007 the Lakotah were withdrawing from all treaties signed with the United States to regain sovereignty over their nation. One of the activists, Russell Means, claims that the action is legal and cites Natural, International and U.S. law. The group consider Lakotah 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.
* Taoyateduta (Little Crow) — Chief famous for role in the Dakota War of 1862
* Tatanka Iyotanke (Sitting Bull) — Chief famous for role in the Battle of Little Bighorn
* Tasunka Witko (Crazy Horse) — Famous for leadership and courage in battle
* Makhpiya-luta (Red Cloud) — Chief famous for role in Red Cloud's War
* Tasunkakokipapi (Young Man Afraid Of His Horses) — Oglala chief who participated in Red Cloud's War
* Ishtakhaba (Sleepy Eye) — Chief of the Sisseton band in the mid 19th century; signed four treaties
* Hehaka Sapa (Black Elk) — Lakota holy man, source of Black Elk Speaks and other books
* Tahca Ushte (Lame Deer) — Lakota holy man, carried traditional knowledge into modern era
* Ohiyesa Charles Eastman — Author, physician and reformer
* Colonel Gregory "Pappy" Boyington — World War II Fighter Ace and Medal of Honor recipient; 1/4 Sioux
* Wambditanka - Big Eagle - Mdewakanton Dakota chief - Narrated his account of the Dakota War of 1862
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