Lakota people

Published on April 26, 2012 by Amy

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Lakota Portraits
Lakota Portraits

The Lakota also known as Teton, Tetonwan (“dwellers of the prairie”), Teton Sioux (“snake, or enemy”) are a Native American tribe. They are part of a confederation of seven related Sioux tribes (the Oceti Šakowiŋ or seven council fires) and speak Lakota, one of the three major dialects of the Sioux language.

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The Lakota are the western-most of the three Sioux-language groups, occupying lands in both North and South Dakota. The seven bands or “sub-tribes” of the Lakota are:

  • Sicaŋǧu (a.k.a. Brulé, Burned Thighs)
  • Oglala (Scatters Their Own)
  • Itazipco (a.k.a. Sans Arc, Without Bows)
  • Huŋkpapa (Camps at the End of the Camp Circle)
  • Miniconjou (Planters by the Water)
  • Sihasapa (Blackfoot Sioux)
  • Oóhenuŋpa (Two Kettles)
  • Notable persons include Tataŋka Iyotake (Sitting Bull) from the Hunkpapa band; and Tašuŋke Witko (Crazy Horse) from the Oglala band, Maȟpiya Luta (Red Cloud), Heȟaka Sapa (Black Elk), Siŋte Gleška (Spotted Tail), Billy Mills and Touch the Clouds from the Oglala band.
  • History

    The Lakota were originally referred to as the Dakota when they lived by the Great Lakes. Encroaching European-American settlement in Canada eventually led them to migrate west from the Great Lakes region. They later called themselves the Lakota, and were also known as Sioux. They were introduced to horses by the Cheyenne about 1730.

    After their adoption of the horse, šuŋkawakaŋ their society centered on the buffalo hunt on horseback. The total population of the Sioux (Lakota, Santee, Yankton, and Yanktonai) was estimated at 28,000 by French explorers in 1660. The Lakota population was first estimated at 8,500 in 1805, growing steadily and reaching 16,110 in 1881. The Lakota were, thus, one of the few Indian tribes to increase in population in the 19th century. The number of Lakota has now increased to about 70,000, of whom about 20,500 still speak the Lakota language.

    After 1720, the Lakota branch of the Seven Council Fires split into two major sects, the Saône who moved to the Lake Traverse area on the South Dakota–North Dakota–Minnesota border, and the Oglala-Sicangu who occupied the James River valley. By about 1750, however, the Saône had moved to the east bank of the Missouri River, followed 10 years later by the Oglala and Brulé (Sicangu).

    The large and powerful Arikara, Mandan, and Hidatsa villages had long prevented the Lakota from crossing the Missouri. However, the great smallpox epidemic of 1772–1780 destroyed three-quarters of these tribes. The Lakota crossed the river into the drier, short-grass prairies of the High Plains. These newcomers were the Saône, well-mounted and increasingly confident, who spread out quickly. In 1765, a Saône exploring and raiding party led by Chief Standing Bear discovered the Black Hills (the Paha Sapa), then the territory of the Cheyenne. Ten years later, the Oglala and Brulé also crossed the river. In 1776, the Lakota defeated the Cheyenne, who had earlier taken the region from the Kiowa. The Cheyenne then moved west to the Powder River country, and the Lakota made the Black Hills their home.

    Initial United States contact with the Lakota during the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804–1806 was marked by a standoff. Lakota bands refused to allow the explorers to continue upstream, and the expedition prepared for battle, which never came. Nearly half a century later, after the United States Army had built Fort Laramie without permission on Lakota land, the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 was negotiated to protect travelers on the Oregon Trail. The Cheyenne and Lakota had previously attacked emigrant parties in a competition for resources, and also because some settlers had encroached on their lands. The Fort Laramie Treaty acknowledged Lakota sovereignty over the Great Plains in exchange for free passage on the Oregon Trail for “as long as the river flows and the eagle flies”.

    The United States government did not enforce the treaty restriction against unauthorized settlement. Lakota and other bands attacked settlers and even emigrant trains, causing public pressure on the US Army to punish the hostiles. On September 3, 1855, 700 soldiers under American General William S. Harney avenged the Grattan Massacre by attacking a Lakota village in Nebraska, killing about 100 men, women, and children. A series of short “wars” followed, and in 1862–1864, as refugees from the “Dakota War of 1862″ in Minnesota fled west to their allies in Montana and Dakota Territory. Increasing illegal settlement after the American Civil War caused war once again.

    The Black Hills were considered sacred by the Lakota, and they objected to mining. In 1868, the United States signed the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, exempting the Black Hills from all white settlement forever. Four years later gold was discovered there, and prospectors descended on the area.

    The attacks on settlers and miners were met by military force conducted by army commanders such as Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer. General Philip Sheridan encouraged his troops to hunt and kill the buffalo as a means of “destroying the Indians’ commissary.”

    The allied Lakota and Arapaho bands and the unified Northern Cheyenne were involved in much of the warfare after 1860. They fought a successful delaying action against General George Crook’s army at the Battle of the Rosebud, preventing Crook from locating and attacking their camp, and a week later defeated the U.S. 7th Cavalry in 1876 at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, which the Lakota call the Greasy Grass Fight. Custer attacked a camp of several tribes, much larger than he realized. Their combined forces killed 258 soldiers, wiping out the entire Custer battalion, and inflicting more than 50% casualties on the regiment.

    Their victory over the U.S. Army would not last, however. The US Congress authorized funds to expand the army by 2500 men. The reinforced US Army defeated the Lakota bands in a series of battles, finally ending the Great Sioux War in 1877. The Lakota were eventually confined onto reservations, prevented from hunting buffalo and forced to accept government food distribution.

    n 1877 some of the Lakota bands signed a treaty ceding the Black Hills to the United States. Low-intensity conflicts continued. Fourteen years later, Sitting Bull was killed at Standing Rock reservation on December 15, 1890. The US Army attacked Spotted Elk (aka Bigfoot), Mnicoujou band of Lakota at the Wounded Knee Massacre on December 29, 1890 at Pine Ridge.

    Today, the Lakota are found mostly in the five reservations of western South Dakota: Rosebud Indian Reservation (home of the Upper Sičangu or Brulé), Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (home of the Oglala), Lower Brule Indian Reservation (home of the Lower Sicangu), Cheyenne River Indian Reservation (home of several other of the seven Lakota bands, including the Mnikoju, Itazipco, Sihasapa and Oohenumpa), and Standing Rock Indian Reservation (home of the Hunkpapa), also home to people from many bands. Lakota also live on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in northeastern Montana, the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation of northwestern North Dakota, and several small reserves in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Their ancestors fled to “Grandmother’s Land” (Canada) during the Minnesota or Black Hills War.

    Large numbers of Lakota live in Rapid City and other towns in the Black Hills, and in metro Denver. Lakota elders joined the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) to seek protection and recognition for their cultural and land rights. It is a little known fact that some of the American Sign Language came from the Lakota Sioux.

    Government

    United States of America
    Legally and by treaty a semi-autonomous “nation” within the United States, the Lakota Sioux are represented locally by officials elected to councils for the several reservations and communities in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Nebraska. They are represented on the state and national level by the elected officials from the political districts of their respective states and Congressional Districts. Band or reservation members living both on and off the individual reservations are eligible to vote in periodic elections for that reservation. Each reservation has a unique local government style and election cycle based on its own constitution or articles of incorporation. Most follow a multi-member tribal council model with a chairman or president elected directly by the voters.

    The current President of the Oglala Sioux, the majority tribe of the Lakota located primarily on the Pine Ridge reservation, is Theresa Two Bulls.

    The President of the Sicangu Lakota at the Rosebud reservation is Rodney M. Bordeaux.

    The Chairman of the Standing Rock reservation, which includes peoples from several Lakota subgroups including the Hunkpapa, is Charles W. Murphy.

    The Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe at the Cheyenne River reservation, comprising the Mniconjou, Izipaco, Siha Sapa, and Ooinunpa bands of the Lakota, is Kevin Keckler.

    The Chairman of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, which is home to the Lower Sicangu Lakota, is Michael Jandreau.
    Tribal governments have significant leeway, as semi-autonomous political entities, in deviating from state law (e.g. Indian gaming.) They are ultimately subject to supervisory oversight by the United States Congress and executive regulation through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The nature and legitimacy of those relationships continue to be a matter of dispute.

    Canada

    There are nine bands of Dakota and Lakota in Manitoba and southern Saskatchewan, with a total of 6,000 registered members. They are recognized as First Nations but are not considered “treaty Indians”. As First Nations they receive rights and entitlements through the Indian and Northern Affairs Canada department. However as they are not recognized as treaty Indians, they did not participate in the land settlement and natural resource revenues. The Dakota rejected a $60 million land rights settlement in 2008.

    Independence movement

    Beginning in 1974, some Lakota activists have taken steps to become independent from the United States, in an attempt to form their own fully independent nation. These steps have included drafting their own “declaration of continuing independence” and using Constitutional and International Law to solidify their legal standing.

    A 1980 U.S. Supreme Court decision awarded $122 million to eight bands of Sioux Indians as compensation for land claims, but the court did not award land. The Lakota have refused the settlement.

    In September 2007, the United Nations passed a non-binding Resolution on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand refused to sign.

    On December 20, 2007, a group of Lakota under the name Lakota Freedom Delegation traveled to Washington D.C. to announce a withdrawal of the Lakota Sioux from all treaties with the United States government. These activists had no standing under any elected BIA tribal government. The group claimed official standing under the traditional Lakota Treaty Councils, representing the traditional Tiospayes (matriarchal family units). These have been the traditional form of Lakota governance.

    Longtime political activist Russell Means said, “We have 33 treaties with the United States that they have not lived by.” He was part of the delegation’s declaring the Lakota a sovereign nation with property rights over thousands of square miles in South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana.[20] The group stated that they do not act for or represent the tribal governments set up by the BIA or those Lakota who support the BIA system of government.

    The Lakota Freedom Delegation did not include any elected leaders from any of the tribes. Russell Means had previously run for president of the Oglala Sioux tribe and twice been defeated. Several elected BIA tribal governments issued statements distancing themselves from the independence declaration, with some saying they were watching the independent movement closely. Although some Indigenous nations and groups around the world made statements in support, no elected Lakota tribal governments endorsed the declaration.

    In January 2008, the Lakota Freedom Delegation split into two groups. One group was led by Canupa Gluha Mani (Duane Martin Sr.). He is a leader of Cante Tenza, the traditional Strongheart Warrior Society, that has included leaders such as Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. This group is called Lakota Oyate. The other group is called the “Republic of Lakotah” and is led by Russell Means. In December 2008, Lakota Oyate received the support and standing of the traditional treaty council of the Oglala Tiospayes.

    Ethnonyms

    The name Lakota comes from the Lakota autonym, Lakota “feeling affection, friendly, united, allied”. The early French historic documents did not distinguish a separate Teton division, instead grouping them with other “Sioux of the West”, Santee and Yankton bands.

    The names Teton and Tetuwan come from the Lakota name títuŋwaŋ, the meaning of which is obscure. This term was used to refer to the Lakota by non-Lakota Sioux groups. Other derivations include: ti tanka, Tintonyanyan, Titon, Tintonha, Thintohas, Tinthenha, Tinton, Thuntotas, Tintones, Tintoner, Tintinhos, Ten-ton-ha, Thinthonha, Tinthonha, Tentouha, Tintonwans, Tindaw, Tinthow, Atintons, Anthontans, Atentons, Atintans, Atrutons, Titoba, Tetongues, Teton Sioux, Teeton, Ti toan, Teetwawn, Teetwans, Ti-t’-wawn, Ti-twans, Tit’wan, Tetans, Tieton, and Teetonwan.

    Early French sources call the Lakota Sioux with an additional modifier, such as Scioux of the West, West Schious, Sioux des prairies, Sioux occidentaux, Sioux of the Meadows, Nadooessis of the Plains, Prairie Indians, Sioux of the Plain, Maskoutens-Nadouessians, Mascouteins Nadouessi, and Sioux nomades.

    Today many of the tribes continue to officially call themselves Sioux. In the 19th and 20th centuries, this was the name which the US government applied to all Dakota/Lakota people. However, some of the tribes have formally or informally adopted traditional names: the Rosebud Sioux Tribe is also known as the Sicangu Oyate (Brulé Nation), and the Oglala often use the name Oglala Lakota Oyate, rather than the English “Oglala Sioux Tribe” or OST. (The alternate English spelling of Ogallala is deprecated, even though it is closer to the correct pronunciation.) The Lakota have names for their own subdivisions. The Lakota also are Western of the three Sioux groups, occupying lands in both North and South Dakota.

    Source: wikipedia

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