Yankton Sioux Tribe

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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 Nicollet Map used to draft the Treaty des Sioux identifying tribal lands. The treaty assumed the map was accurate and the Big Sioux River was a geographical boundary to the Yankton when they could walk across it to their quarry at Pipestone.
Yankton Sioux chief "Struck by the Ree" who insisted on making the Pipestone quarry a treaty issue with the United States in 1858
1872 Plat of Yankton Sioux Pipestone Reservation held by the National Park Serrvice
Inlaid Pipe Bowl collected at Fort Snelling 1833-36, made from stone from the Yankton quarry.[4]
1858 Yankton Treaty monument in disrepair
Probably Yankton, Sioux. Bow, Bow Case, Arrows and Quiver at the Brooklyn Museum[4]
Running Bull - Yankton Sioux Chief signed 1858 treaty
Smutty Bear in 1857 also signed 1858 Yankton treaty

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 Ihaƞktoƞwaƞ Dakota Oyate, meaning "People of the End Village" which comes from the period when the tribe lived at the end of Spirit Lake just north of Mille Lacs Lake.[5][6][7] The CNWRR records state the name is alternately spelled with an "E" instead of an "I" or "Ehanktowan".[5]

Historically, the tribe are known for being the protectors of the sacred Pipestone Quarry for the Oceti Sakowin (Dakota/Sioux). Over time the tribe has been referred to as Nakota Sioux which some say is inaccurate and that the Yankton people are Western Sioux. Elsewhere the Yankton people are referred to as Wiciyela Sioux, or middle Sioux.[8]

The tribe maintains a free-ranging bison herd.[6]

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.

  • When the 1862 hostilities broke out in Minnesota the Yankton band lead Struck By-the-Ree refused to join the Santee Sioux.[9]

Treaties and land cession[edit]

The first treaty the United States signed with the Yankton people took place at Portage des Sioux on July 18, 1815. The second took place in Washington D.C. on October 21, 1837 and is recorded as Indian Treaty 226. 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. The Sisseton and Wahpeton tribes signed the Traverse des Sioux treaty ceding lands as far west as the Big Sioux River. The Yankton Sioux claimed the land east of the Big Sioux River as far as the Pipestone quarry.[10] For more than three and a half months the tribal leaders worked on the terms of a treaty of land cession. The Yankton Treaty of Washington was signed April 19, 1858 with article 8 granting the Yankton a one mile square reservation protecting the pipestone quarry.[10] The treaty made Minnesota Territory free and clear to become a State in May 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." Despite having a treaty for the reservation at Pipestone white settlers over and over ignored it and even submitted land claims for some of it. In the 1880s a ten man cavalry troop from Fort Randall was sent to evict the squatters,[11] but the problem continued and with little outside support, the Yankton people ended up having to go to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1928 to protect their rights and land. The court ruled in their favor.[12] One hundred acres of the reservation was taken for the construction of the Pipestone Indian school in 1894. Native American children were sent to the school until its closure in the 1950s. The Supreme Court ruled that when the Government took that land for the school it had actually taken the entire reservation and that the tribe should be compensated. At that point the Pipestone reservation was on its path to becoming a National Monument.

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 provided the purpose for construction of the school. The treaty stipulated that the tribe relocate 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 the 1858 treaty 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. After moving to the reservation there are three cessations on record: cessation 410, cessation 411, and cessation 412 all reducing the size of the reservation.


The tribe's headquarters are in Wagner, South Dakota[6] and it is governed by a democratically elected non-IRA tribal council. Its original constitution was ratified in 1891.[13]

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.[14] Most of the tribe moved onto the reservation in the 1860s.[15]

The Yankton treaty of 1858 created a Yankton Sioux Reservation one mile square at the Pipestone quarry in Minnesota. The Yankton people are credited with protecting the quarry from white settlement and the creation of the Pipestone National Monument that now exists where the reservation once was. White settlers interloping on the Yankton Reservation forced the tribe to take action all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1928. There the Court sided with the Yankton people.

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.[16]

Other major employers include Indian Health Services, the tribe itself, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Marty Indian School.[6]


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.[17]

Bows Another example of a Yankton bow[18] was collected in 1869 and is kept by the Department of Anthropology at the National Archives. 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.[17]

Arrows The Smithsonian has Yankton arrows also collected in 1869,[19]that 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,[17]

Quivers and case A Sioux Quiver and bow case was donated to the archives in 1892.[20] 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.[17]

Notable tribal members[edit]

Yankton Sioux Congressional Gold Medal
Yankton Sioux Congressional Gold Medal
This medal is one in a series issued by Congress to recognize the military service of Native Nations to the United States


  1. ^ Pritzker 329
  2. ^ Pritzker 331
  3. ^ Pritzker 335
  4. ^ a b The Jarvis Collection of Native American Plains Art, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn New York,[https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/geographicallocations/2309371}
  5. ^ a b Yankton, Place Names Connected to the Chicago North Western Railway, printed Chicago 1908, p. 172[1]
  6. ^ a b c d e "Yankton Sioux Tribe." South Dakota Department of Tourism. 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  7. ^ "Rev. secr. Trib. perm. revis". Rev. Secr. Trib. Perm. Revis. doi:10.16890/rstpr.
  8. ^ Family Search, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints website [2]
  9. ^ 6. Struck by Ree, Lives of the Chiefs and other Biographies, Witness, A Hunkpapha Strong Heart, Josephine Waggoner, University Of Lincoln Press, 2013, p.657 [3]
  10. ^ a b MANAGING THE SACRED AND THE SECULAR: An Administrative History Of Pipestone National MonumentPipestone Administrative History, CHAPTER II: CLEARING FEDERAL TITLE 1858-1928, Hal K. Rothman and Daniel J. Holder, National Park Service Midwest Region (MWR-1-0015-002), Hal K. Rothman and Associates Publishing, 2809 Barrel Cactus Henderson, NV, September 10, 1992 [4]
  11. ^ Pipestone Indian Reservation, National Park Service, Department of Interior, Washington D.C. updated August 29, 2020 [5]
  12. ^ Yankton Sioux Tribe of Indians vs. United States (1926), No. 250, decided: November 22, 1926 [272 U.S. 351, 352]. FindLaw, 610 Opperman Drive, Eagan, MN 55123 [6]
  13. ^ Pritzker 341
  14. ^ BIA website
  15. ^ Pritzker 340-1
  16. ^ "Fort Randall Casino." 500 Nations. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ Smithsonian Institution Catalogue number E-8385
  19. ^ Smithsonian Institution Catalogue Number E-8385
  20. ^ Smithsonian Institution Catalogue Number E-154017


  • 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]