Yankton Sioux Tribe

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Yankton Sioux Tribe
of the South Dakota
Long Fox-To-Can-Has-Ka. Tachana, Sioux, 1872 - NARA - 519036.tif
Long Fox-To-Can-Has-Ka,
Tachana, Yankton Sioux, 1872
Total population
11,594 enrolled members
Regions with significant populations
 United States ( South Dakota)
Dakota, English[1]
traditional tribal religion, Sun Dance,[2]
Native American Church, Christianity[3]
Related ethnic groups
other Eastern Dakota, Western Dakota people

The Yankton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota is a federally recognized tribe of Yankton Western Dakota people, located in South Dakota. Their Dakota name is Ihanktonwan Dakota Oyate, meaning "People of the End Village."[4][5]

Historically, the tribe were the protectors of the sacred Pipestone Quarry for the Oceti Sakowin.

The tribe maintains a free-ranging bison herd.[4]

Lewis & Clark[edit]

According to local legend, when Meriwether Lewis learned that a male child had been born near the expedition's encampment in what is today southeastern South Dakota, he sent for the child and wrapped the new born baby boy in an American flag during the council at Calumet Bluff in late August 1804. Lewis declared the baby an American. This boy grew up to become a headman (chief) of the Ihanktonwan Dakota (Yankton Sioux), known as Struck By-the-Ree. However, the journals of the expedition make no mention of this incident.


Archery reached an equital technology with the Yankton Sioux. Made from local materials, the tribe used bows and arrows to hunt deer, antelope and small game. Reportedly, the Yankton could kill a bison with each arrow in a quiver.[6]


An example of a Yankton bow[7] was collected in 1869 and is kept by the Department of Anthropology. It is made from either ash or white oak and is sinew backed. The sinew is coated with a white, chalky material to prevent moisture from loosening the bands. There are remains of red pigment on the belly of the bow, and four red slashes are painted on the back of each limb. The bow is only 45.25 inches tip to tip, and with thick limbs is very strong.

The bowstring is two ply sinew. "The sinew string is broken but well made and is permanently tied to the bottom limb with a slip knot.[6]


The arrows also collected in 1869,[8] have metal arrowheads. The four arrows range from 23.75 inches (shortest) to 26.25 inches (longest). Unlike most Sioux arrows from the time and region, these were made from split hickory instead of shoots. With their iron broadhead arrowheads, the arrows could have deep penetration power with the thick hickory shafts. The feathers are two hawk feathers, and one turkey feather used as the cock feather. They are attached with animal glue and sinew string. Blue and green paint is evident underneather the feathers. The nocks are widely flared,[6]

Quivers and cases[edit]

The Quiver and bow case is also Sioux, and donated in 1892,[9] but not collected at the same time as the bow and arrows. It is brain tanned Buckskin (leather) with Beadwork at the top and bottom. There is fringe as well at the top and bottom, and they are sewn with sinew. The quiver is 26.5 inches long, and the bow case is 46 3/8 inches long.[6]

Pressure and land cession[edit]

By the late 1850s, pressure to open up what is now southeastern South Dakota to white settlement had become very strong. Struck-by-the-Ree and several other headmen journeyed to Washington, D.C., in late 1857 to negotiate a treaty with the federal government. For more than three and a half months, they worked out the terms of a treaty of land cession. The Treaty of Washington was signed April 19, 1858.

Returning from Washington, Padaniapapi (Struck-by-The-Ree) told his people, "The white men are coming in like maggots. It is useless to resist them. They are many more than we are. We could not hope to stop them. Many of our brave warriors would be killed, our women and children left in sorrow, and still we would not stop them. We must accept it, get the best terms we can get and try to adopt their ways."

For about eleven and a half million acres, a payment of approximately $1.6 million in annuities was to paid over the next 50 years. Specific provisions of the treaty called for educating the tribe to develop skills in agriculture, industrial arts and homemaking. This treaty provided for the removal of the tribe to a 475,000-acre reservation on the north side of the Missouri River in what is now Charles Mix County. (Charles E. Mix was the commissioner who signed for the federal government.) The US Senate ratified the treaty on February 16, 1859 and President James Buchanan authorized it ten days later. On July 10, 1859, the Yankton Sioux vacated the ceded lands and moved onto the newly created reservation.


The tribe's headquarters are in Wagner, South Dakota[4] and it is governed by a democratically elected non-IRA tribal council. Its original constitution was ratified in 1891.[10]

It is the only Dakota/Lakota tribe in South Dakota that did not agree to comply with the Indian Reorganization Act and retains its traditional government.

Officially, the Yankton Sioux Tribe is called "Ihanktonowan Dakota Oyate" in the local dialect. The Yankton Sioux, or Dakota people, adopted a unique tribal symbol on September 24, 1975. With minor alterations this symbol serves as seal, logo and flag.

Crossing the yellow portions of the flag approximately one-third from the bottom is an undulating red line. This symbolizes a "prayer" to bind the home in love and safety. Red was chosen by designer Gladys L. Moore, a Yankton Sioux from Union Lake (Ibid), Michigan, because it is a symbol of life. The color red was painted around the lower parts of tepees to indicate that those that visited would be fed or that that particular tepee was one of several in which a feast was to be held.


The tribe's reservation is the Yankton Indian Reservation, established in 1853 in Charles Mix County, South Dakota. The tribe has a land base of 36,741 acres.[11] Most of the tribe moved onto the reservation in the 1860s.[12]

Economic development[edit]

The tribe owns and operates the Fort Randall Casino and Hotel in Pickstown, South Dakota, and Lucky Lounge and Four Directions Restaurant.[13]

Other major employers include Indian Health Services, the tribe itself, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Marty Indian School.[4]

Notable tribal members[edit]


  1. ^ Pritzker 329
  2. ^ Pritzker 331
  3. ^ Pritzker 335
  4. ^ a b c d e "Yankton Sioux Tribe." South Dakota Department of Tourism. 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  5. ^ "Rev. secr. Trib. perm. revis". Rev. Secr. Trib. Perm. Revis. doi:10.16890/rstpr.
  6. ^ a b c d Berger, Billy. 2010. "Treasures of the Smithsonian. Part IV. Archery of the Northern Plains: Sioux." Primitive Archer. Volume 18 (4). August–September 2010. Pages 22-29.
  7. ^ Smithsonian Institution Catalogue number E-8385
  8. ^ Smithsonian Institution Catalogue Number E-8385
  9. ^ Smithsonian Institution Catalogue Number E-154017
  10. ^ Pritzker 341
  11. ^ BIA website
  12. ^ Pritzker 340-1
  13. ^ "Fort Randall Casino." 500 Nations. Retrieved 29 July 2013.


  • Pritzker, Barry M. A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-19-513877-1

External links[edit]