Sioux Tribe

If the Great Spirit has desired me to be a white man he would have made me so in the first place. He put in your heart certain wishes and plans; in my heart he put other and different desires. Each man is good in the sight of the Great Spirit. It is not necessary for eagles to be crows. Now we are poor but we are free. No white man controls our footsteps. If we must die, we die defending our rights.” –Chief Sitting Bull – Sioux

Sioux Chief Sitting Bull

Sioux Chief Sitting Bull

History

Originally the Sioux occupied the territory spanning from the Arkansas River in the south to the western tributary of Lake Winnipeg, and westward towards the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. The sioux were discovered by the French in 1640, near the Mississippi River. The French took formal possession of the region in 1685. During the War of 1812 the Sioux sided with the British. In 1837, the Sioux ceded all of the lands west of the Mississippi to the United States for the sum of $3,000,000.  The U.S. government did not honor all the provisions of the treaties, which caused hostilities towards the U.S. among the Sioux. There was a revolt by the Sioux in 1862 because of the failure of the government to uphold its part of the bargain. Nearly 1,000 white settlers were killed, but the Indians were subdued at the end of the revolt. Some Sioux were hanged, others were held captive.

The Sioux who were not captured by the U.S. army fled into Dakota territory, while others escaped into the British dominions. Some Sioux Indians attacked settlements and forts. The strength of the tribe was greatly reduced at this point. Treaties were still being made but were not honored by either the Sioux or the by the U.S. When Gold was discovered in the Black Hills, which were part of the Sioux reservation, the U.S. wanted the Sioux to move to what they referred to as Indian Territory (all the land west of the Mississippi River, not including Missouri and Louisiana and Arkansas), and proposed to buy the land which would be vacated, but this time the Sioux refused to move.

In 1875, Chief Sitting Bull, along with Chief Red Cloud visited the national capital, but President Grant could not persuade them to sign the agreement. In the spring of 1876 a military force was sent to fight the Sioux, which resulted in the historic Battle of Little Big Horn or Custer’s Last Stand. General Custer and all of his soldiers were slain. It is remembered as one of the most significant victories of the Indian Nations. Later after having been defeated in several additonal encounters with U.S. army, the Indians returned to their reservations.

The government failed to keep the obligations made to the Sioux, especially payments still owed to the Indians for certain lands they had sold. During this time the crops had failed and the U.S. Congress had cut back the supplies. Government agents were sent to the reservation, but were not interested in helping the half famished Indians. This caused great dissatisfaction among the Indians, and all of these circumstances led to plans for an uprising by the Sioux . The following two paragraphs describe the Battle of Wounded Knee and the aftermath: On Dec. 15 [1890] a body of Indian police, acting under orders from General Miles, attempted to arrest Sitting Bull in his camp, about 40 miles northwest of Fort Yates, N. D. A skirmish ensued, and in it the noted chieftain, together with his son Crowfoot and six other Indians, was killed. The remnant of the band made its way to the Bad Lands

On Dec. 28 a battle occurred near Wounded Knee, S. D., between a cavalry regiment and the men of Big Foot’s band. Thirty of the whites were killed, while the Indian dead numbered over 200, including many of their women and children. Over 3,000 Indians then fled from the agency and encamped near White Clay Creek, where, on the next day, another encounter occurred.

The result of this engagement was the dispersal of the Indians with heavy loss, and the death of eight soldiers of the 9th Cavalry. Several other skirmishes occurred during the week which followed, with loss of life on both sides. On Jan. 14, 1891, two councils were held with General Miles, and the chiefs, seeing the hopelessness of their cause, agreed to surrender their arms and return to the agency.

The war was practically ended, and on Jan. 21 the greater part of the troops were withdrawn from the neighborhood of the reservation. On the 29th, a delegation of Sioux chiefs, under charge of Agent Lewis, arrived in Washington for the purpose of conferring with the Secretary of the Interior.

The conference began on Feb. 7, and continued four days, at the close of which the Indians were received by President Harrison at the White House. They were assured that the cutting down of the congressional appropriation was an accident, and that the government desired faithfully to carry out every agreement made. On their return home the chiefs stopped for a short time at Carlisle, Pa., where the children of several of them were attending school. In 1899 the total number of Sioux was 27,215, divided into nineteen bands, and located principally in South Dakota.

Tribalpedia’s Questions for Comprehension and Discussion

Answer the statements either T (True) or (F)  False

1. The Sioux were discovered by the French in 1640, near the Mississippi River

2. During the War of 1812 the Sioux sided with the Americans.

3. The U.S. government honored all the provisions of the treaties…

4. When Gold was discovered in the Black Hills, which were part of the Sioux reservation, the U.S. wanted the Sioux to move.

5. In the spring of 1876 a military force was sent to fight the Sioux, which resulted in the historic Battle of Little Big Horn or Custer’s Last Stand.

6. General Custer and his soldiers won this battle.

Click HERE for Complete Lesson Plan with Answer Key

The Sioux Today

JR Redwater-Standing Rock Sioux- Comedian

Today, The Sioux nation is comprised of three divisions: The Lakota, the Dakota, and the Nakota tribes. One large reservation, called Rosebud, is located in south central South Dakota, another is the Pine Ridge Reservation located to the west of the Rosebud reservation, and the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Reservations in the north central part of South Dakota.

The Sioux are very traditional people, maintaining their old customs and rituals. On the Rosebud reservation the government is composed of a Tribal Council, and a Tribal Committee. They have an elementary school, high school, and a university. The major economic occupation on the reservation is cattle ranching and farming. In addition, employment is generated by the university, the Indian Health Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and St. Francis Indian School.

Sioux Myth: Coyote, Iktome, and Iya the Rock

The mythical character Iktomi is from the Lakota people. He is a spider-trickster spirit, although he can take any shape including human. Iktomi has been portrayed as being both good and bad, and has many powers. In many myths Iktomi is usually paired with Coyote, another trickster. There are some myths where Iktomi helps protects people from harm, or shows them ways to live a better life.

There are those who see Iktomi as casting his web over the world. Contemporary American Indians interpret this as meaning the internet and world wide web. The following is a story involving Iktomi, Coyote, and Iya the Rock. Read more… Top Coyote was walking with his friend Iktome. Along their path stood Iya the rock. Iya the rock was not just any ordinary rock, but a special rock that had powers.

Coyote said; “Why this is a nice looking rock. I think it has powers.” Coyote took off his thick blanket he was wearing and put it on the rock. “Here Iya, take this as a present. Take this blanket, friend rock to keep you from freezing. You must feel cold.” “Wow, you sure are in a giving mood today friend” said Iktome. “Ah, it’s nothing. I’m always giving things away. Iya looks real nice in my blanket.”

“You mean his blanket now,” said Iktome. The two friends walked on. Pretty soon a cold rain started. The rain turned to hail and sleet. Coyote and Iktome took refuge in a cave, which was cold and wet. Iktome was alright; he had his thick buffalo robe to keep him nice and warm. Coyote only had his shirt, and he was cold. He was freezing so bad that his teeth were chattering. “Friend of mine,”

Coyote said to Iktome, “go back and get my fine blanket. I need it, and that rock has no use for it. He’s been getting along without a blanket for ages. Hurry; I’m freezing!” So Iktome went back to Iya saying: “Can I have that blanket back please?” Iya the rock said: “No, I like it. What is given is given.” Iktome returned to Coyote and said: “He won’t give it back.” “That no-good, ungrateful rock!” said Coyote. “Has he paid for the blanket? Has he worked for it? I’ll go get it back myself.” “Friend,” said Iktome, “Iya the rock has a lot of power! maybe you should let him keep it.”

“Are you crazy?” replied Coyote, “This is an expensive blanket of many colors and great thickness. I’ll go talk to him.” Coyote went back and called to Iya: “Hey rock! What’s the meanifrom Iya and put it on. “So there; that’s the end of it!” said Coyote.

“By no means the end,” said Iya the rock. Coyote went back to the cave. the rain stopped and the sun came out again, so Coyote and Iktome sat before the cave sunning themselves, e“You mean his blanket now,” said Iktome. The two friends walked on. Pretty soon a cold rain started. The rain turned to hail and sleet. Coyote and Iktome took refuge in a cave, which was cold and wet. Iktome was alright; he had his thick buffalo robe to keep him nice and warm. Coyote only had his shirt, and he was cold. He was freezing so bad that his teeth were chattering. “Friend of mine,”

Coyote said to Iktome, “go back and get my fine blanket. I need it, and that rock has no use for it. He’s been getting along without a blanket for ages. Hurry; I’m freezing!” So Iktome went back to Iya saying: “Can I have that blanket back please?” Iya the rock said: “No, I like it. What is given is given.” Iktome returned to Coyote and said: “He won’t give it back.” “That no-good, ungrateful rock!” said Coyote. “Has he paid for the blanket? Has he worked for it? I’ll go get it back myself.” “Friend,” said Iktome, “Iya the rock has a lot of power! maybe you should let him keep it.”

“Are you crazy?” replied Coyote, “This is an expensive blanket of many colors and great thickness. I’ll go talk to him.” Coyote went back and called to Iya: “Hey rock! What’s the meaning of this? What do you need a blanket for? Let me have my blanket back right now!” “No,” said the rock, “what is given is given.” “You’re a bad rock! Don’t you care that I’m freezing to death? That I’ll catch a cold?” Coyote jerked the blanket awayating fruit and fry-bread with berry soup. After eating, they leaned back and enjoyed the sunshine. All of a sudden Iktome said; “What’s that noise?” “What noise? I don’t hear anything,” replied Coyote. “That crashing and rumbling sound far off.” “Why yes friend, I hear it now. It is rather a strong and loud. I wonder what it could be?”

“I have a pretty good idea, friend,” said Iktome. Then they saw the great rock. It was Iya, rolling , thundering and crashing upon them at a great speed! “Friend, let’s run for it!” cried Iktome. “Iya means to kill us!” The two ran as fast as they could but the rock rolled after them coming closer and closer. “Let’s swim the river,” Coyote shouted. “The rock is so heavy, he can’t swim.” But the great rock also swam over the river as if he had been made of wood. Finally Iktome cried “Friend Coyote, this is really not my quarrel. I just remembered, I have something important to do at home. Good bye and good luck!”

Iktome rolled himself up into a tiny ball and became a spider. He disappeared down a mouse-hole. Coyote could not do anything but continue to run as fast as he could. The huge rock came rolling after him, shivering and splintering everything in his path! Coyote ran on and on, the big rock thundering close at his heels. Then Iya the big rock, rolled right over Coyote, flattening him out altogether! Iya took the blanket and rolled back to his own place, saying: “So there!” On that day Coyote learned a hard lesson, which was: always be generous in heart. If you have something to give, give it forever.

Sources

Sioux Nation
Rosebud Sioux
Wikipedia
Chief Red Cloud