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«Dakota, Nakota, Lakota Life South Dakota State Historical Society Education Kit Dakota, Nakota, Lakota Life (Beadwork Designs) Background ...»

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Dakota, Nakota, Lakota Life

South Dakota State Historical Society Education Kit

Dakota, Nakota, Lakota Life (Beadwork Designs)

Background Information:

About 8.3% of South Dakotans hold dual citizenship.

Most of the 64,000 American Indians

living in South Dakota are members of the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota Nation (also known as the

Great Sioux Nation) as well as Americans.1

Lakota histories are passed from generation to generation through storytelling. One story tells about the Lakota coming to the plains to live and becoming Oceti Sakowin, the Seven Council Fires.

The story begins when the Lakota lived in a land by a large lake where they ate fish and were warm and happy. A man appeared, and told them to travel northward. The Lakota obeyed, and began the journey north. On their way they got cold, and the sun was too weak to cook their food. Two young men had a vision, and following its instructions, they gathered dry grasses and struck two flint stones together, creating a spark and making fire. There were seven groups of relatives traveling together.

Each group took some of the fire, and used it to build their own fire, around which they would gather.

As a result, they became known as the Seven Council Fires, or Oceti Sakowin.2 During the mid-17th century, nearly all the Sioux people lived near Mille Lacs, Minnesota. 3 Pressured by the Chippewas, they moved west out of northern Minnesota in clan groups by the early 18th century.4 The three tribes spoke the same general language, but each developed dialects or variations, which also became their known name. The tribes become known as the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota. Each of the three tribes was organized into smaller bands, listed below.

Lakota (Teton) – who live on Nakota (Yankton) bands Dakota (Santee) bands the prairie bands Yankton – who camp at the end Mdewakanton – community of the Sicangu (Brule) sacred lake Oglala – they scatter them Yanktonais – who camp at the lesser Wahpekute – who hunt in the woods end Hunkpapa – who camp by the Wahpeton – dwellers among the entrance leaves Minneconjou – who plant by Sisseton – lake village the water Sihasapa (Blackfeet) – black feet Oohenunpa (Two Kettle) – cook their food twice Itazipo (Sans Arc) – no bows 1 South Dakota Census Data. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/46000.html 2 Red Cloud History. The Story of the Seven Councils Fire of the Lakota. http://redcloudschool.org/history/oceti.htm 3 Herbert T. Hoover, Sioux Country: A History of Indian-White Relations (Sioux Falls: The Center for Western Studies, 2000), 37.

4 Duane Champagne, ed., The Native North American Almanac (Detroit: Gale Group, 2001), 23.

Dakota, Nakota, Lakota Life South Dakota State Historical Society Education Kit Lakota One of the earlier clans to leave Minnesota was the Lakota, including the Teton band. They settled in the Sioux and James River valleys during the 18th century, then pushed west past the Missouri River. The Lakota creation story tells how they came to hunt the buffalo.

The Great Spirit Skan made us with bones from Stone, bodies from Earth, and souls from himself, Wind and Thunders. The gifts of Sun, Wisdom, Moon, and Revealer gave us life. A council of the spirits named us Pte Oyate–Buffalo Nation—and told us to care for the spirits. One day Spider sent Wolf to the Underworld to tell Tokahe that life would be easier on the surface of the earth. Tokahe ignored the warnings of the holy man Tatanka, and led the people up through Wind Cave. Life there was hard, so Tatanka came to help—as a great shaggy beast. Since then the people have lived here with the buffalo.5 Every Lakota person has many relatives. All of them are part of his/her tiyospaye, the circle of relatives including mother, father, grandfather, grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins and all relatives from marriage and adoption. When you know your relatives, you know where you come from and who you are. Kinship provides direction for daily living. All values and judgments of right and wrong relate to the duties and benefits of kinship. Each member of the group must act to insure the good of the tiyospaye.

Nakota By 1708, the Nakota, which included the Yankton band, had moved from their Minnesota home to the northwestern corner of Iowa.6 By 1804, they had moved further west to the mouth of the James River where they met Lewis and Clark.7 By 1857, tensions rose between the Nakota and white settlers trespassing on tribal land. Chief Struck By The Ree went to Washington, DC, where he and other tribal leaders signed a treaty ceding the eastern half of South Dakota to the US government. 8 The treaty relocated the Nakota from Yankton west to Wagner, SD.

The Nakota never officially took up arms against the United States. They did sometimes fall victim to angry whites who punished them anyway, as did Fort Randall soldiers soon after the 1862 Minnesota Uprising when they killed a Nakota hunting party that had legal permission to hunt in the area.9 5 South Dakota State Historical Society. Lakota Creation Story. http://travelsd.com/onlyinsd/sioux/ 6 Elmer Duane Cwach, “A History of the Yankton Indian Agency During the Nineteeth Century,” (MA Thesis, South Dakota State University, 1958), 1.

7 Harry H. Anderson, “The Diplomacy of Lewis and Clark among the Teton Sioux, 1804-1807,” South Dakota History 35, no. 1 (Spring 2005), 41.





8 Hoover, Sioux Country, 53.

9 Cwach, “History of the Yankton Indian Agency,” 22.

Dakota, Nakota, Lakota Life South Dakota State Historical Society Education Kit Dakota The Dakota, or Santee, along with the Nakota formed the eastern Sioux tribes. Dakota means "Allies" or "Confederates," expressing their close ties with the Nakota and the Lakota, the western Sioux tribe. The Santee stayed in Minnesota until 1862, when they fought a desperate war with the whites who were pushing them into smaller plots of land. After numerous treaties, they had so little land left that they could not sustain themselves. The US government promised money and food for the land, but the payments were so late the Santee were dying of starvation. The neglect worsened after the government became preoccupied with fighting the Civil War.10 After many years of starvation and disappointment, the Santee demanded help in feeding their families in 1862. Violence broke out and the Minnesota Uprising lasted about 40 days, taking hundreds of lives. Afterward, the whites wanted revenge on the Santee, both guilty and innocent. Many Santee fled west to escape the angry whites. Those who stayed in Minnesota were held responsible. About 1,700 Santee were captured and put in prison and over three hundred were sentenced to hang. President Lincoln called for a careful review of the evidence, and the number hanged was reduced to thirty-eight.11 When the sentence was carried out on December 26, 1862, it was the largest mass execution in United States history.

Forced Santee Relocation Following the Minnesota Uprising, 1,300 Santee were relocated to Crow Creek in Dakota Territory, near Fort Thompson. Special Agent Ben Thompson had chosen the site, just weeks before the Santee arrived, with a priority on isolation from white settlements. He defended his choice for years, saying it was suitable, but few would agree. The land was sparsely wooded, especially compared to Minnesota. Since hundreds of their able men had been sentenced to prison in Iowa, the new arrivals were mostly women and children. They arrived already weakened and sick from crowded travel.

Many had died along the way, and about 300 died from starvation, disease, and exposure the first year at Crow Creek.12 While their women and children were shipped to Crow Creek, about two hundred Santee men were sent to prison at Fort McClellen, Iowa. There many of the prisoners converted to Christianity and mixed freely with surrounding white neighbors, learning farming skills.13 By the spring of 1865, most 10 nd Roy W. Meyer, History of the Santee Sioux, 2 ed. (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1993), 112.

11 Champagne, Native American Almanac, 42.

12 Meyer, Santee Sioux, 146.

13 Paul Stuart, ed., Dacotah: A History of the Flandreau Santee Sioux (Flandreau, SD: Tribal History Program, Flandreau Sioux Tribe, 1971), 53.

Dakota, Nakota, Lakota Life South Dakota State Historical Society Education Kit of the prisoners were returning north to Dakota in time to meet their families moving south from Crow Creek to a new reservation on the Niobrara River bordering Nebraska. Although some of the Santee liked Niobrara, the government was years away from declaring it their permanent reservation. This uncertainty of a title to their home, in addition to a desire to live closer to the Minnesota border prevented some of them from putting down roots.14 By the spring of 1869, twenty-five families left Niobrara to establish a colony on the banks of the Big Sioux River. These families became the Flandreau Indian settlement, comprised mostly of heads of household who had learned white ways while imprisoned in Iowa.15 Two other Dakota bands, the Sissetons and Wahpetons, though largely innocent of participating in the Minnesota Uprising, had fled Minnesota and eventually settled the area west of Lake Traverse and Big Stone Lake by 1864. Fort Wadsworth, later renamed Fort Sisseton, was established near their settlement.16 Traditional Village Life On the plains, the horse culture of the Lakota thrived. Life centered on the buffalo, which provided food and shelter. Other foodstuffs included prairie turnips, chokecherries, other wild game, and fish.

Trade with the earth lodge tribes along the upper Missouri River brought in corn, beans, and squash.

The four seasons set the rhythm for village life. In the spring, women repaired or replaced tipis, and made clothing. They began gathering ripening berries and roots. For the men, spring brought the first buffalo hunts. It was also a time for repairing weapons, hunting other game, and hide painting.

Socially, springtime meant dances sponsored by various tribal groups, and vision seeking.17 Summer brought more buffalo hunting to ensure the winter food supply. It was also a time for raiding parties to set out, and for trading with other tribes. Ceremonies such as the Sun Dance were held in the summer. Camp had to be moved every few days to follow the buffalo and reach new grazing land for the horses. Tipis provided good easily moved shelter. The main components of the tipi were the poles, the hide cover, a liner, and anchoring stakes or stones. Women made and owned the tipis. A family of eight could live comfortably in a 14-foot tipi.

To set up the tipi, three poles were tied together to form a tripod. Other poles were laid against the tripod to form a sturdy frame. The tipi’s hide cover, made from sewing buffalo hides into a semicircle, 14 Stuart, Dacotah, 63.

15 Ibid., 71.

16 Meyer, Santee Sioux, 198.

17 Thomas E. Mails, The Mystic Warriors of the Plains (New York: Mallard Press, 1991), 25.

Dakota, Nakota, Lakota Life South Dakota State Historical Society Education Kit was tied to the last post and pushed into place. Once spread over the poles, the cover was laced together in front with wooden pins. The tipi cover was staked down or anchored with stones around the edge to hold it in place. Smoke flaps on top of the tipi could be adjusted for ventilation and protection from the rain. An interior liner was tied to the tipi poles. This provided privacy since when the central fire was lit, shadows would be cast on the liner and not on the outside tipi cover. Grass stuffed between the liner and the cover provided insulation. A tipi could be set up in 15 minutes.

Inside the tipi, good order was essential. The door always faced east toward the rising sun.

Generally, men’s places were on the north, and women’s on the south of the tipi. Personal belongings were stored near an individual’s sleeping place. An altar was set up just behind the central fire pit to the west, opposite the door. Firewood, food, and cooking utensils were kept near the door.

Fall meant preparation for the coming winter. Food had to be gathered and buffalo meat dried.

Wood had to be collected and stored. A fall hunt made sure the winter’s meat supply would be adequate.

Life slowed down in winter camp, with less moving of camp from place to place. If enough food had been preserved and the area was secure, winter brought time for making and repairing clothing and doing intricate quill and beadwork. It was also a time for socializing, gambling, storytelling, and passing on tribal oral history.18 Lakota Reservation Life While the Santee were being moved from Minnesota to Crow Creek to Niobrara, the Teton Lakota were hunting buffalo in the country west of the Missouri River. The occasional white men who passed through their land were tolerated and useful trading partners. In 1866, the number of whites coming into Lakota territory greatly increased on the Bozeman Trail to Montana’s gold mines. Less interested in trading with the Indians, the travelers began to scatter and thin the buffalo. Fierce fighting against this incursion prompted the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, forming the Great Sioux Reservation that included all of west-river South Dakota and halted travel along the Bozeman Trail.19 The treaty also promised the Black Hills would always be the Lakota’s hunting grounds.

When gold was discovered in the Black Hills, the government could not hold back the miners.

Buffalo hunters began a systematic killing of buffalo for their skins and tongue meat in 1871. 20 The Lakota and Cheyenne killed Custer and all his men at Custer’s Last Stand in 1876, but other soldiers 18 Mails, Mystic Warriors, 30.

19 Hoover, Sioux Country, 57.

20 Champagne, Native American Almanac, 44.

Dakota, Nakota, Lakota Life South Dakota State Historical Society Education Kit retaliated severely. The railroads and buffalo hunters continued the buffalo killing and by 1885, the millions of buffalo that had roamed the plains were gone.



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