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Great Sioux Nation

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Title: Great Sioux Nation  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Sioux, Oglala Lakota, Native American tribes in Nebraska, Charmaine White Face, Floyd Red Crow Westerman
Collection: Indigenous Peoples of the Great Plains, Siouan Peoples, Sioux
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Great Sioux Nation

The Sioux people were united in a confederacy of seven members, called the Seven Fires Council.

The Great Sioux Nation is a term applied to the political structure of the Sioux at the time of their contact with Europeans and Euro-Americans. Most of the peoples speaking a Siouan language were members of the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ (pronounced [oˈtʃʰetʰi ʃaˈkowĩ]) or Seven Fires Council. The Seven members are sometimes grouped into three regional/dialect groups (Lakota, Western Dakota, and Eastern Dakota), but these mid-level identities were not politically institutionalized: the seven smaller groups were separate members of one confederacy.

Two Siouan peoples were not part of the Seven Fires Council: the Assiniboine and Stoney who lived to the north of the others, were instead members of Iron Confederacy with the Cree, traditional enemies of the Sioux.


  • Subdivisions 1
  • Controversy 2
  • Canada 3
  • Further reading 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The Great Sioux Nation is divided into three linguistically and regionally based groups and several subgroups. Linguistically, all three language groups belong to Siouan languages.

  1. Lakota (a.k.a. Lakȟóta, Teton)
    • Northern Lakota (Húŋkpapȟa, Sihásapa)
    • Central Lakota (Mnikȟówožu, Itázipčho, Oóhenuŋpa)
    • Southern Lakota (Oglála, Sičháŋǧu)
  2. Western Dakota (a.k.a. Yankton-Yanktonai or Dakȟóta)
    • Yankton (Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋ)
    • Yanktonai (Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna)
  3. Eastern Dakota (a.k.a. Santee-Sisseton or Dakhóta)
    • Santee (Isáŋyathi: Bdewákhathuŋwaŋ, Waȟpékhute)
    • Sisseton (Sisíthuŋwaŋ, Waȟpéthuŋwaŋ)

The term "Great Sioux Nation" is also sometimes applied to a hypothetical state in the western and midwestern United States, which would occupy the following recognized Indian Reservations:

The hypothetical state would also include the defunct Great Sioux reservation and other "unceded Indian territory" in four states, as well as parts of the following states:

Therefore, the theoretical Great Sioux Nation occupies only parts of the United States where Sioux tribes have some legal claim with regard to treaties with the Federal government. (See, e.g., Treaty of Fort Laramie and map of treaty land in External Links section, below.)

Historically, the Great Sioux Nation and the United States have had a turbulent relationship. The last of the great American Indian battles, the Battle of Little Bighorn and the Wounded Knee Massacre, were fought between these two peoples.


In one of the oldest, unresolved cases in US legal history, the "United states v. the Sioux Nation," the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the United States was wrong in breaking the terms of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, which exempted the Black Hills from all white settlement forever. However, when European Americans discovered gold there in 1874, miners swept into the area in a gold rush. The US government reassigned the Lakota, against their wishes, to other reservations in western South Dakota. The Court awarded eight Sioux tribes $106 thousand in compensation—the 1877 value of $17.5 million, plus interest. The Sioux Nation has refused to accept the award, which remains in accounts at the Treasury Department, accruing interest. As of 2011, the accounts are estimated to be valued at over 1 billion dollars.[1]


The Assiniboine (Nakota) speak a Siouan language closely related to the Yanktonai. They became a separate people sometime before 1640 when they are first documented by French missionaries. The Assiniboine were not a member of the Seven Council Fires, however, and instead were members of the Iron Confederacy (with Cree and Saulteaux), and became long-term enemies of the remaining Sioux. Because of this other Sioux-speakers referred to them as the Hohe or "rebels". The Assiniboine were the first of the Sioux-speaking peoples to leave the Eastern Woodlands and move onto the Great Plains.[2] Canadian Nakoda (Stoney) began as westernmost branch of the Assiniboine, but were referred to as a separate people after about 1744.

Further reading

  • Decker, Doug. An Analysis of "The Bradley Bill" Proposing to Return the Black Hills to the Great Sioux Nation. [Pierre, S.D.]: South Dakota Legislative Research Council, 1987.
  • Hans, Frederic Malon. The Great Sioux Nation; A Complete History of Indian Life and Warfare in America. Minneapolis: Ross & Haines, 1964.
  • Ortiz, Roxanne Dunbar. The Great Sioux Nation Sitting in Judgment on America. San Francisco: American Indian Treaty Council Information Center, Moon Books, 1977.
  • Pommersheim, Frank, and John P. LaVelle. 2002. "Toward a Great Sioux Nation Judicial Support Center and Supreme Court: An Interim Planning and Recommendation Report for the Wakpa Sica Historical Society's Reconciliation Place Project". Wicazo Sa Review. 17, no. 1: 183-232.
  • South Dakota. The Great Sioux Nation. [Pierre, S.D.]: South Dakota Office of Tourism, 2006.


  1. ^ Pratt, Timothy (February 9, 2011). "Saying No to $1 Billion - Maria Streshinsky". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2013-12-28. 
  2. ^ Vickers, C. (1951–1952). "The Assiniboines of Manitoba". MHS Transactions (Manitoba Historical Society) (3). Retrieved 7 December 2012. 

External links

  • Map of treaty land
  • "Sioux," Encyclopedia of the Great Plains
  • "Sioux," Countries and Their Cultures
  • Chase Iron Eyes, Historical Context
  • Russell Means on late Lakota (Sioux) history
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