AIS 100: Introduction to American Indian Studies

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 The Lakota are part of the great Siouan farming groups from the Great Lakes and represent the most Western expansion of Macro-Siouan peoples. The Lakota were originally called the Western Sioux and arrived in the Plains around 1690. The original people of the Great Lakes called the Sioux (French abbreviation Nadowesioux which is Ojibway/Chippewa for 'Little Snake or enemy') referred to themselves as the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires). These seven make up what the Europeans referred to as the Great Sioux Nation or Eastern, Central and Western Sioux.


Language Group  Nation/Fireplaces
Dakota (Santee/E. Sioux) Mdewakanton (spirit lake dwellers)
  Wahpeton (leaf dwellers)
  Sisseton (fish scale dwellers)
  Wahpekute (leaf shooters)
Nakota (C. Sioux) Yankton (end dwellers)
  Yanktonais (little end dwellers)
Lakota (W. Sioux) Teton (praire dwellers)
         The Lakota Tetons broke away the most from their original farming roots in the Great Lakes  and adapted to Plains buffalo-horse complex pastoral lifestyle that has so typified  images of Plains culture and even American Indians in general. The Tetons were themselves organized into seven divisions.
  Oglala (scatter their own)
  Sicangu (burnt thighs) (Fr. term :Brule)
  Hunkpapa (camps at the edge)
  Mnikoju (plants beside the water) (also called Miniconju)
  Sihasapa (black foot) (also called Blackfoot Sioux, but not the same as Algonkian grp of the same name)
  Oohenunpa (two boilings) (also called Two Kettle)
  Itazipco (no bows) (Fr. term San Arcs)

    Our case study is basically focused on the Oglala group because of the leaders we study at various historical time periods and ethnographic documentation.

I. Origins 

       Originally the Oglala were Woodland CBS farmers in the Great Lakes. The intrusion of French and English settlement began to cause a chain reaction of displacements eventually affecting the Great Lakes by the 1670's. The Oglala moved into the Plains ca 1700, acquired horses by 1750, and rose to power as other farming groups were decimated by European disease first in 1770s, and later in the 1840s. By 1850 the Lakota reached their largest population of over 40,000, and in 1852 the effects of European American westward expansion came to the Plains and was followed by ever increasing settlement after the Civil War and with the introduction of the railroad.

II. Traditional Culture

       Therefore, traditional culture for the Oglala is their Plains adaptation of about 1850, which will be quickly eroded by continued expansion by Euro-American frontiers moving out beyond the Mississippi River in the mid 19th century. As the people moved into the Plains and acquire horses the farming practices were dropped and they adapted to the buffalo/bison-horse complex. This involved a transformation of focus on the powers of fertility of CBS to the fertility of the Plains Bison. This meant shifting the winter solstice renewal ceremonies and the three sisters (CBS) to the summer solstice in late June and White Buffalo Calf Woman. This shift is exemplified in the Sun Dance Ceremony that occurs at the time of the summer solstice in conjunction with the bisons fattening up, winter coats coming in and was followed by a great communal bison.  

Lakota/Oglala  1800-1890
Language Macro Siouan Lakota
Settlement Powder River/Black Hills
Oglala Bands (7)/Leaders
Payabya (cause to go forward) Old Man, Young Man Afraid of His Horses, Crazy Horse
Tapisleca (split liver) Yellow Bear, White Bird
Kiyaksa (cut off)  
Wajaje (snake people)  
Itesica (bad faces) Red Cloud
Oyuhpe (thrown down) Red Dog,Big Road
Wagluhe (loafers) Smoke
Economics B-H Complex, TipiBison2.jpg (53065 bytes) Hunting and Gathering

Horse pastoralism

Communal Late Summer Bison Hunts

tunwan nation
oyate tribe
tiyospaye band
wicoti camp
tiwahe family
Birth Order Naming, Matrilineal,Patrilocal residence, levirate/sororate,dream societies
Leadership/Flexible Camp Circle:
Tezi Tanka (big bellies) Chief Society (7)
Wicasa Yatanpi (men they praise) Shirt Wearers (4)
Akicita (soldier) Soldier Society
Wakan people various ritual and healing specialists
Witansna (virgins) ritual assistants
World View Emergence mythic motiff

Wakan = sacred; Wakan Tanka= Great Sacred or Mysterious

Lakota Ritual:
Inikagapi sweat lodge
Hanbleceya vision quest
Wanagi Yuhapi ghost keeeping (mourning for one year0
Wi Wanyang Wacipi sun dance (world renewal)
Hunkalowanpi  making relatives
Isnati Awicalowan-hey girls puberty (honoring white buff. calf woman)
Tapa Wankayeyapi throwing the ball (unk.) 
Expressed Forms Hide and Painting

Quill workLmocs.jpg (20897 bytes)

Stone pipes (red claystone from Pipestone, MN)

Singing and drum, northern style reflected in today's pow wows 

Winter count buffalo hide pictographic histories; later in ledger books

III. Contemporary Culture

      Todays Lakota (W. Sioux) live in small reservations reduced from the Great Sioux Reservation established in the Ft. Laramie Treaty of 1868 that consisted of 60 million acres and encompassed western South Dakota, North Dakota, eastern Wyoming and parts of Nebraska and Montana. The Custer expedition of 1874 and invasion of 1876 violated the Treaty of 1868. Eventually the Sioux Agreement of 1889 continued  to erode the reservation to 2.8 million acres with subsequent reductions leading to the current reservations. Some Nakota (C. Sioux) and even Dakota (E. Sioux) are mixed in the reservation populations.

Contemporary Lakota Communities/Reservations
 Reservation Culture Group
Cheyenne River Reservation,SD Itazipco (San Arc); Mnikoju (Miniconjou); Oo'henumpa (Two Kettle); Siha Sapa (Black Feet Sioux) 
Lower Brule Reservation, SD Kul' Wicasa ( Brule/L. Burnt Thighs band) 
Rosebud (Upper Brule) Reservation, SD Sicangu (Brule/Burnt Thighs 
Pine Ridge Reservation, SD Oglala
Standing Rock Reservation, SD  Hunkpapa ( some are still in Canada)
Contemporary Nakota Communities/Reservations
Reservation Culture Group
Crow Creek Reservation, SD Yankton; Yanktonai
Standing Rock Reservation, SD Yanktonai
Yankton Sioux Reservation, SD Yankton
Contemporary Dakota Communities/Reservations
Reservation Culture Group
Flandreau Santee Sioux Reservation, SD  
Lake Traverse Reservation, SD/ND Wahpeton;Sisseton
Devil's Lake Sioux Reservation, ND Wahpeton; Sisseton
Lower Sioux Reservation, MN  
Praire Island Community, MN Mdewakanton
Upper Sioux Reservation, MN Sisseton, Mdewakanton
Shakopee or Prior Lake Reservation Mdewakanton

      Pine Ridge Reservation, home of the Oglala, continues to have problems from a traditional vs progressive civil war that only became diminished by 1980. However, underemployment continues to be a problem at Pine Ridge. There is also continued efforts to regain federal lands in the Black Hills. The Lakota were offered money for land that they were cheated out of, but refused payment and insisted on return of such land which is supported by the Reorganization Act of 1934. The Lakota, although justified, are not asking for privately owned land or state controlled land. It is not unreasonable to speculate that it would be a beneficial move for this country to return control of Dept. of  Interior/ Federal lands to Native Americans, including the Oglala.


Lakota Dakota Information Page

Eyapaha Institute

A Study and Timeline of the Lakota Nation

Voice of Lakota Nation

Copyright S. J. Crouthamel