The Sioux Nations

The word "Sioux" comes from Nadoussioux, a word the French used based on the Chippawa/Ojibwe word Nadowe-is-iw meaning "little adder" or "lesser adder" (or "snake")—the intent being "enemy." The Ojibwe were traditional enemies of the Sioux, hence the derogatory appellation. It was later shortened to Sioux and has since become the most common way to refer to the nations, though many Indians find it offensive. There really isn't a single name to refer to the groups as a whole and I'm using it for that reason as well as familiarity.

The "group" is divided into three main parts. It is based on dialect, generally known as D-dialect, L-dialect, and N-dialect. In the related languages, similar words switch the consonants—as in the self designation of "ally": Dakota, Lakota, Nakota.

An further example with the word "thanks":

  • pidamaye (Dakota)
  • pilamaye (Lakota)
  • pinamaye (Nakota)

While Dakota and Lakota are still spoken fairly widely, Nakota has fallen into disuse for the most part.

The basic groups

D-dialect: Dakota (Eastern).

L-Dialect: Lakota (Western). Also called Titonwan or Titunwan (Teton): "dwellers of the plains."

N-dialect: Nakota (Northern and Southern or "middle").
Subgroups:

  • Ihanktonwan (Yankton) "camps at end," "end village"
  • Ihanktonwana (Yanktonai) "little end village":
    • Upper Yanktonai
    • Lower Yanktonai

The three main groups are further divided into what was known as Oceti Sakowin or the "Seven Council Fires" (in this way, though they were separate groups made up of smaller bands, they were "united" as well):

  1. Teton
  2. Sis'tonwan or Sisseton, "dwellers of the fish ground"
  3. Wak'peton or Wahpeton, "dwell among the leaves"
  4. Wak'pekute (or no apostrophe), "shoot among the trees"
  5. Mde'wakan tunwon or Mdewakanton, "people of the spirit lake"
  6. Yankton
  7. Yanktonai

Each group

Dakota
In the 17th century, they lived in Wisconsin and north central Minnesota. By the 19th century, they had moved westward to the eastern plains of Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, and eastern South Dakota. Today, most Dakota reservations are found in North and South Dakota, Nebraska, and Minnesota.

The Dakota bands are:

  • Sis'tonwan or Sisseton
  • Wak'peton or Wahpeton
  • Wak'pekute
  • Mde'wakan tunwon or Mdewakanton
The last two are often known as Isanyeti or Isanati (Santee), meaning "knife" of "knifemakers." Santee is also used to refer to all the Dakotas.

Lakota
The Lakota were in north central Minnesota and part of Wisconsin in the late 17th century. By the mid 19th century, they had moved (or had "been moved") farther west to the western Dakotas, northwestern Nebraska, northeastern Wyoming, and southeastern Montana. Today, the reservations are chiefly located in South Dakota.

The Lakota are subdivided into seven groups:

  1. Sicanju (Brulé), "burnt thighs."
    subgroup: Kul'wicasa "lower burnt thighs."
  2. Hunkpapa, "camps at edge," "end of entrance," "camps at end of horns."
  3. Oglala, "scatter their own."
  4. Mnikoju (Minneconjou), "plants by the water" (variant spellings: Mnikoju, Mnikowoju, Hokwoju, and Mni Ho Hwoju).
  5. Itazipco (Sans Arcs), "without bow."
  6. Siha Sapa, "blackfeet" (not to be confused with the other tribe of that name).
  7. Oo'henumpa, "two kettle" or "two boilings."

Nakota
As with the other two main groups, the Nakota were in the north central Minnesota region in the 17th century and ended up migrating west. They mostly settled near the Missouri River in what is now North and South Dakota, southwestern Minnesota, and southwestern Iowa. Today their reservations can be found in the Dakotas and Montana.

Again, the divisions:

  • Yankton
  • Yanktonai
    • Upper Yanktonai
    • Lower Yanktonai

Others:
Hohe (Assiniboine/Assiniboin), "those who cook with stones" (Algonquian). The Assiniboine are thought to have been a part of the upper Yanktonai but separated possibly by the late 16th century. They do speak the Nakota dialect. The reservations are in Montana, with another in Canada (where they are sometimes referred to as "Stoneys").

Cut Head. Another band mentioned in the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie. There isn't much available information on them, but they seem to have been a part of the upper Yanktonai.

(Sources: www.eagleswatch.com_great_sioux_nation.htm, www.crystalinks.com/sioux.html, http:stuweb.jcu.edu/pmonk/learnspace/LS_lanbgrd.htm, www.nativenations.com/iowa/ia_siou.html, Barry M. Pritzker Native Americans: an encyclopedia of history, culture, and peoples 2000, Carl Waldman Atlas of the North American Indian rev. ed. 2000), various other sites used for verification purposes)

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