|55,000 Lakota on reservations (mid-1990s)
103,255 Sioux on self-identified 1990 census
|Regions with significant populations|
| United States
( North Dakota and South Dakota)
|Related ethnic groups|
The Lakota people (pronounced [laˈkˣota]; also known as Teton, Titunwan ("prairie dwellers"), Teton Sioux ("snake, or enemy") are an indigenous people of the Great Plains of North America. They are part of a confederation of seven related Sioux tribes, the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ or seven council fires, and speak Lakota, one of the three major dialects of the Sioux language.
- Sičháŋǧu (Brulé, Burned Thighs)
- Oglála ("They Scatter Their Own")
- Itázipčho (Sans Arc, Without Bows)
- Húŋkpapȟa ("End Village", Camps at the End of the Camp Circle)
- Mnikȟówožu ("Plant beside the Stream", Planters by the Water)
- Sihásapa ("Black Feet")
- Oóhenuŋpa (Two Kettles)
Notable persons include Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake (Sitting Bull) from the Húnkpapȟa band; Touch the Clouds from the Miniconjou band; and, Tȟašúŋke Witkó (Crazy Horse), Maȟpíya Lúta (Red Cloud), Heȟáka Sápa (Black Elk), Siŋté Glešká (Spotted Tail), and Billy Mills from the Oglala band.
Siouan language speakers may have originated in the lower Mississippi River region and then migrated to or originated in the Ohio Valley. They were agriculturalists and may have been part of the Mound Builder civilization during the 9th–12th centuries CE. In the late 16th and early 17th centuries, Dakota-Lakota-Nakota speakers lived in the upper Mississippi Region in present day Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and the Dakotas. Conflicts with Anishnaabe and Cree peoples pushed the Lakota west onto the Great Plains in the mid- to late-17th century.
Early Lakota history is recorded in their Winter counts (Lakota: waníyetu wówapi), pictorial calendars painted on hides or later recorded on paper. The Battiste Good winter count records Lakota history back to 900 CE, when White Buffalo Calf Woman gave the Lakota people the White Buffalo Calf Pipe.
Around 1730, Cheyenne people introduced the Lakota to horses, called šuŋkawakaŋ ("dog [of] power/mystery/wonder"). After their adoption of horse culture, Lakota 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 Oglála-Sičháŋǧu 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 Oglála and Brulé (Sičháŋǧu).
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 Oglála 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.
In 1877 some of the Lakota bands signed a treaty that ceded the Black Hills to the United States; however, the nature of this treaty and its passage were controversial. The number of Lakota leaders that actually backed the treaty is highly disputed. Low-intensity conflicts continued in the Black Hills.. 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 Sičhánǧu or Brulé), Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (home of the Oglála), Lower Brule Indian Reservation (home of the Lower Sičhaŋǧu), Cheyenne River Indian Reservation (home of several other of the seven Lakota bands, including the Mnikȟówožu, Itázipčho, Sihásapa and Oóhenumpa), and Standing Rock Indian Reservation (home of the Húŋkpapȟa), 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 [i.e. Queen Victoria'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.
United States 
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 Sičháŋǧu 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 Húŋkpapȟa, is Charles W. Murphy.
- The Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe at the Cheyenne River reservation, comprising the Mnikȟówožu, Itázipčho, Sihá Sápa, and Oóhenuŋpa 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.
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.
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 Tiyóšpaye (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. 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.
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 thítȟuŋwaŋ, 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 Sičháŋǧu Oyáte (Brulé Nation), and the Oglala often use the name Oglála Lakȟóta Oyáte, 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.
Notable Lakota 
- Arthur Amiotte, Oglala artist, educator, curator, and author
- Black Elk (Heȟáka Sápa)
- Black Hawk, Sans Arc artist, medicine man
- Mary Brave Bird, Brulé author
- Nathan Chasing His Horse, actor, medicine man
- Chris Chavis (Tȟatȟáŋka), WWE wrestler
- Crazy Horse (Tȟašúŋke Witkó)
- Gall (Phizí) (c. 1840–1894)
- Kicking Bear, Oglala activist and warrior
- Lame Deer (Tȟáȟča Hušté), medicine man
- Kevin Locke (Tȟokéya Inážiŋ), Hunkpapa hoop dancer and flute player
- Karina Lombard, Lakota-descent actress
- Billy Mills, Oglala Olympic Gold Medalist
- Rain-in-the-Face (Ité Omáǧažu), Hunkpapa war chief who fought in the Battle of Little Bighorn
- Red Cloud (Maȟpíya Lúta)
- Red Shirt (Ógle Lúta)
- Sitting Bull (Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake), Hunkpapa chief
- Eddie Spears, Lower Brulé actor
- Michael Spears, Lower Brulé actor
- Moses Stranger Horse, Brulé artist
- Touch the Clouds (Maȟpíya Ičaȟtagye)
- John Two-Hawks, musician
Today, one half of all enrolled Sioux live off the Reservation.
Lakota reservations recognized by the U.S. government include:
- Oglala (Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota and Nebraska)
- Sicangu (Rosebud Indian Reservation, South Dakota)
- Hunkpapa (Standing Rock Reservation North Dakota and South Dakota)
- Mniconjou (Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, South Dakota)
- Izipaco (Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, South Dakota)
- Siha Sapa (Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, South Dakota)
- Ooinunpa (Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, South Dakota)
Some Lakota also live on other Sioux reservations in eastern South Dakota, Minnesota, and Nebraska:
- Santee Indian Reservation, in Nebraska
- Crow Creek Indian Reservation in Central South Dakota
- Yankton Indian Reservation in Central South Dakota
- Flandreau Indian Reservation in Eastern South Dakota
- Lake Traverse Indian Reservation in Northeastern South Dakota and Southeastern North Dakota
- Lower Sioux Indian Reservation in Minnesota
- Upper Sioux Indian Reservation in Minnesota
- Shakopee-Mdewakanton Indian Reservation in Minnesota
- Prairie Island Indian Reservation in Minnesota
See also 
- Pritzker 329
- Pritzker, 328
- "Lakota Winter Counts." Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 28 May 2012.
- Liberty, Dr. Margot. "Cheyenne Primacy: The Tribes' Perspective As Opposed To That Of The United States Army; A Possible Alternative To 'The Great Sioux War Of 1876'". Friends of the Little Bighorn. Retrieved January 13, 2008.
- Bray, Kinglsy M."Teton Sioux: Population History, 1655–1881." Nebraska History. Summer, 1994, pp. 169, 175
- American FactFinder. Factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved on April 18, 2011.
- The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, University of Nebraska.
- Brown, Dee (1950) Bury My Heart at Wounded KneeMacmillan ISBN 0-8050-6669-1, ISBN 978-0-8050-6669-2
- Winona LaDuke, All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life, (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1999), 141.
- The Indian Reorganization Act[dead link]
- "> News > Oglala Sioux Tribe inaugurates Cecilia Fire Thunder". Indianz.Com. December 13, 2004. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
- Official Site of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe[dead link]
- Our Constitution & By-Laws[dead link]
- "Indian Country Diaries . History". PBS. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
- Ottawa rejects claims by Dakota, Lakota First Nations, CBC News, August 1, 2007
- Dakota Nations reject $60.3 M settlement offer from Ottawa, The Brandon Sun, Jun 26, 2008
- "Race: The Price of Penance". Time. May 8, 1989. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
- "Canada votes 'no' as UN native rights declaration passes". CBCNews. September 13, 2007. "Canada's UN ambassador, John McNee, said Canada had "significant concerns" over the declaration's wording on provisions addressing lands and resources"
- UBB Message - ReaderRant
- "Descendants of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse break away from US", Agence France-Presse news
- Bill Harlan, "Lakota group secedes from U.S.", Rapid City Journal, December 20, 2007.
- "Lakota group pushes for new nation", Argus Leader, Washington Bureau, December 20, 2007
- "Lakota Sioux have NOT withdrawn from the US", DailyKOS
- Christafferson, Dennis M. (2001). "Sioux, 1930–2000". In R. J. DeMallie (Ed.), Handbook of North American Indians: Plains (Vol. 13, Part 2, pp. 821–839). W. C. Sturtevant (Gen. Ed.). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution. ISBN 0-16-050400-7.
- DeMallie, Raymond J. (2001a). "Sioux until 1850". In R. J. DeMallie (Ed.), Handbook of North American Indians: Plains (Vol. 13, Part 2, pp. 718–760). W. C. Sturtevant (Gen. Ed.). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution. ISBN 0-16-050400-7.
- DeMallie, Raymond J. (2001b). "Teton". In R. J. DeMallie (Ed.), Handbook of North American Indians: Plains (Vol. 13, Part 2, pp. 794–820). W. C. Sturtevant (Gen. Ed.). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution. ISBN 0-16-050400-7.
- Matson, William and Frethem, Mark (2006). Producers. "The Authorized Biography of Crazy Horse and His Family Part One: Creation, Spirituality, and the Family Tree". The Crazy Horse family tells their oral history and with explanations of Lakota spirituality and culture on DVD. (Publisher is Reelcontact.com)
- Parks, Douglas R.; & Rankin, Robert L. (2001). "The Siouan Languages". In R. J. DeMallie (Ed.), Handbook of North American Indians: Plains (Vol. 13, Part 1, pp. 94–114). W. C. Sturtevant (Gen. Ed.). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution. ISBN 0-16-050400-5.
- Pritzker, Barry M. A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-19-513877-1.
- Ullrich, Jan. New Lakota Dictionary. Lakota Language Consortium. ISBN 0-9761082-9-1. (The most comprehensive dictionary of the language, the only dictionary reliable in terms of spelling and defining words.)
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- NAHA – The Official Charity Helping The People Of The Lakota Sioux Tribes & Reservations on South Dakota
- The Official Lakota Language Forum
- Dakota Blues: The History of The Great Sioux Nation[dead link]
- Lakota Language Consortium
- Lakota Freedom Delegation to Withdraw from Treaties in DC 2007/12/14
- The Lakota Sioux Indians Declare Independence, Ibrahim Sediyani
- The Teton Sioux (Edward S. Curtis)
- Lakota Winter Counts a Smithsonian exhibit of the annual icon chosen to represent the major event of the past year
- Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Official Website