Lakota/Nakota/Dakota

The names the people we call Sioux have for themselves are the Lakota, Nakota or Dakota, meaning "friends . . . allies . . . to be friendly." At an earlier time, the Sioux evolved into three main groups speaking different dialects of the same language. The Dakota were the largest group and are considered to be the mother group. The Nakota were next in size, followed by the Lakota. Winter count records indicate that there was strife within the Sioux tribal family which may have been associated with a rise in power of the Lakota.

The Dakota, who were also called the Santee Sioux, occupied a region east of the Mississippi in what is currently Minnesota. They were divided into four bands: the Mdewakantonwon, who are now in Minnesota, Flandreau, SD, and the Santee Reservation in Nebraska; the Wahpeton, who are now at the Devil's Lake Reservation, ND, Flandreau, SD, and Sisseton, SD; the Wahpekute, who are now at the Santee Reservation in Nebraska and Fort Peck, MT; and the Sisseton who are at Devil's Lake in ND and Sisseton, SD. Sisseton Wahpeton Community College has a History & Culture page on their site.

The Nakota, also known as the Yanktonai or Yankton Sioux, split from the Dakota and moved to the prairies in the region that is now southeast South Dakota. They were divided into three bands: Yankton who are now on the Yankton Reservation in SD; the Upper Yanktonai who are split between the Standing Rock Reservation in SD and the Devil's Lake Reservation in ND; Lower Yanktonai who are split between the Crow Creek Reservation in SD and the Fort Peck Reservation in MT.

The Lakota, sometimes known as the Teton Sioux, moved to a region west of the Missouri River. The Lakota became the largest of these groups, developing what is known as the Plains Indian Culture after receiving the horse in the seventeenth century. They are divided into seven bands: the Oglala now on the Pine Ridge Reservation in SD, Sicangu or Brulé who are now on the Rosebud and the Lower Brulé Reservation in SD, Hunkpapa who are now at the Standing Rock Reservation SD & ND, Miniconjous now at the Cheyenne River Reservation, SD, Sihasapa or Blackfoot now at Standing Rock or Cheyenne River, Itazipacola or Sans Arc now at Cheyenne River, and Oohenupa or Two Kettle also at Cheyenne River (later declared to be tribes by the U.S. government).

Of course there are tribal members who live off the reservation as well.


The information on this page was derived from the booklet Pine Ridge Reservation: Yesterday and Today by Gregory Gagnon and Karen White Eyes, Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions by John (Fire) Lame Deer and Richard Erdoes, and Natural History of the Black Hills and the Badlands, by Sven G. Froiland.

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© 1995 Karen M. Strom