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Former tribal areas of the Sioux groups (green): the Lakota, the neighboring Nakota ( Yanktonai and Yankton ) as well as Dakota tribes and today's reservations (orange)

The Lakota , Lakhota ([ laˈkˣota ] Lakȟóta , also: Lak'ota - "friends, allies") are the most western dialect and tribal group of the Sioux from the Sioux language family . Originally the Lakota lived together with the other Sioux tribes in the area west of the Great Lakes , but later large groups of the Sioux were pushed south and west by the Anishinabe (Chippewa or Ojibwe) . On the hike to their new hunting grounds, the Sioux divided into three large regional tribal groups, which differed in dialect and partly also in their way of life and culture - the Dakota left behind in the east or the eastern Dakota , the western Dakota and the westward to the Plains-drawn Lakota, which since then are also known as Teton (from Thítȟuŋwaŋ , Titonwan-kin - "inhabitants of the prairie, i.e. the plains").

The speakers of each dialect had no difficulty understanding one another. While Dakhótiyapi (Santee-Sisseton) and Lakȟótiyapi are still spoken by many Sioux today, the dialect variant of Dakȟótiyapi (Yankton-Yanktonai) has almost died out.

In the mid-19th century, their territory extended from the Little Missouri River in the northwest to the Missouri River in the northeast and the Platte River in the south. It thus covered large areas of today's US states of South Dakota , North Dakota and Nebraska . The center was the Black Hills in South Dakota. They are regarded by the Lakota as the seat of spirits and therefore as sacred.

Culture and way of life

Life in the Great Plains , which stretch from Saskatchewan in the north to Texas in the south, was tough. There are no mountain ranges worth mentioning there, and so one is almost defenseless at the mercy of the forces of nature. In winter, the arctic storms can sweep across the land without any resistance, and temperatures below minus 30 degrees are not uncommon. In the summer months, however, the area is regularly hit by ruthless heat, accompanied by sandstorms, severe thunderstorms and even tornadoes.

American bison

The Lakota were typical representatives of the Plains culture . At the beginning of the 19th century, they lived in large circular camps made of tipis covered with bison skins. They led a nomadic life and carried all their belongings on horse-drawn travois when they moved their camp. Their livelihood was entirely dependent on bison hunting . The meat, innards and bone marrow of the animals were used for nutrition and the skin was used to make clothing, shoes and covering the tepees. The extremely tear-resistant tendons were used for sewing material and bows, while the bison horns were worn as jewelry on the head. Even the dried bison manure served as fuel in the treeless plains and was carefully collected.

Festive dress of the Lakota, around 1870. Here in the German Leather Museum

The Lakota men were dressed in leather loincloths and moccasins in summer and leather shirts, leggings and fur coats in winter . The women wore loose fur dresses and buffalo calves provided the clothes for the children. The processing of the buffalo skins and the manufacture of the clothes and teepees was essentially female work. Since it was too much work for a woman to sew a teepee, she invited several other women of the tribe to tea. If they accepted, they automatically had to help sew the teepee too.

"Non-destructive-aggressive society"

The social psychologist Erich Fromm used ethnographic records to analyze 30 pre-state peoples, including the Lakota, for their willingness to use violence as part of his work Anatomy of Human Destructiveness . He finally assigned them to the “non-destructive-aggressive societies”, whose cultures are characterized by a sense of community with pronounced individuality (status, success, rivalry), targeted child-rearing, regulated manners, privileges for men and, above all, male tendencies to aggression - but without destructive ones Tendencies (destructive rage, cruelty, greed for murder, etc.) - are marked. (see also: "War and Peace" in pre-state societies )

Mythology and religion

The Black Hills area in particular plays an important role in the mythology of the Lakota. A race is said to have taken place around the hill between birds (two-legged people, who represent people) and animals (four-legged ones). The birds won and so a natural order emerged in which humans dominated the animals and were allowed to kill the bison and other game for eating. The Wind Cave in the Black Hills is said to have been the birthplace of humans. The four is the sacred number in the traditional Lakota religion , which can be found among other things in the four spokes of the medicine wheel . The circular shape of this symbol is also of central importance, since according to the ideas of this people everything takes place in cycles.

Their animistic-religious system knew four powers that ruled over the universe, which in turn were divided into four hierarchies. The basis of these powers was Wakȟáŋ (Wakan) , the mysterious life and creative force, which in sum was called Wakȟáŋ Tȟáŋka (Wakan Tanka) ("the great, inexplicable secret, great secret" or world soul ). Things, natural phenomena or people with outstanding or unusual properties were also wakan , because in them the existence of the supernatural powers was revealed. The bison also played a spiritual role as the most important resource: when a girl first menstruated, for example, an altar for a bison skull and other ritual items such as tobacco, a pipe and a new dress were erected in a tent. A holy man ( Wičasa Wakan ) then prayed to the divine mystery Wakan kin and the creation Taku wakan (which together made up Wakan Tanka ) and finally to the bison so that he might transform the girl into a fertile "bison woman". This necromancer was responsible for the transmission of religious ideas, the preservation of myths , rites and traditions as well as the traditional knowledge of the Lakota. He also led the rituals during the sun dance and was a spiritual specialist who had (allegedly) “ magical ” abilities as a mediator to the spirit world ( Wakȟáŋ or Wakan ). The Wičasa Wakan can be differentiated from the healer or spiritual healer ( Pȟežúta wičháša / Pejuta Wacasa ) who tried to heal the sick and wounded with the help of medicinal herbs. All things that he used during the healing ritual only became Pejuta ("medicine") through this. He had a great deal of knowledge in traditional medicine . Both the holy man ( Wicasa Wakan ) and the healer ( Pejuta Wacasa ) were mistakenly referred to in a simplified and pejorative way as medicine man (see: Problematic of delimitation; example of shaman and priest as well as " The term medicine in connection with the North American Indians ") .

According to the ongoing surveys of the evangelical-fundamentalist conversion network Joshua Project , 30% of the Lakota still profess their ethnic religion . However, this does not reveal how many people are followers of the Pan-Indian Native American Church and how many belong to the original traditional religion (which today contains some Christian elements). 60% are (officially) Christians (almost two thirds of them Protestants) and 10% describe themselves as non-religious. The Christian Lakota congregations have adopted many traditional ceremonies for their part, and many official Christians follow traditional cults (including the sun dance ) in addition to worship .

The holy pipe

Shapes of Indian pipes

The “ holy pipe ” ( Lakota : Čhaŋnúŋpa or Čhaŋnúŋpa Wakȟáŋ ) is still used today at sacred ceremonies (including at Catholic masses on the reservations). It is popularly known as the "pipe of peace". The Lakota say that they were given the ceremonial pipe by a beautiful spirit being called Whope ("The Beauty") or Pte Ska Win / Pte San Wi ( White Buffalo Woman ) - and Whope conveyed it as a culture bringer of the Sioux the "Seven Sacred Rites". Two Lakota hunters saw her, and one of them wanted her. But he disappeared in a cloud, and when it had dissolved, only a small pile of bones was to be seen. The spirit came to the tribe and handed over a red ceremonial pipe with the words: “Look at this pipe! Never forget how sacred it is and treat it accordingly, for it will lead you to the end. Remember there are four ages in me. I am leaving you, but I look back on you, and in the end I return. ”Since then, the pipe has been kept by the keeper of the ceremonial pipes. Today the "Holy Pipe" is kept by a member of the Looking Horse family.

The "Seven Sacred Rites" are an essential part of the Lakota ritual life. According to a Lakota legend, they were given to the people by the White Buffalo Calf Woman:

  1. Inipi , Inípi , sometimes also Inikagapi , Iníkaǧapi - the sweat lodge or the cleansing ritual (sweat lodge ritual ) , was often the beginning or end of other ceremonies or was carried out before large undertakings (such as the buffalo hunt or military campaigns) (English " Sweat Lodge Ceremony ")
  2. Haŋblečeya , Hanblecha , Hanbléčheya - the 2 to 4-day vision search accompanied by a Wičasa Wakan (" Crying for a vision ", " The Vision Quest ")
  3. Wanagi yuhapi , Nagi Gluhapi , Naǧí Gluhápi - the purification or keeping clean / protecting the soul so that it can safely reach Wakȟáŋ Tȟáŋka (Wakan Tanka) after death (English " The Ghost Keeping Ceremony ", " The Keeping of The Soul." ")
  4. Wi Wanyang wacipi , Wiwanke Wachipi , Wiwang Wacipi , Wi Wanyang Wačhípi - the Sun Dance also led at least one Wicasa Wakan , here boys were often means initiation added to the status of a warrior (English " The Sun Dance ")
  5. Hunkapi , Hunka Kacapi , Huŋkáyapi - the ritual adoption , the first Hunkapi (adoption) took place according to tradition between Lakota and Arikara, who thereby accepted each other as relatives and thus made peace; Later, outsiders could be accepted among the relatives of their own Tiyóspaye by means of Hunkapi (adoption) (English " the making of relatives ", " The Hunka Ceremony ")
  6. Isnati awicalowan , Ishna Ta Awi Cha Lowan , Isnati Awicalowanpi , Isnáthi Awíčhalowaŋpi - a puberty ritual for girls after their first menstruation as a rite of passage into the status of a woman (English " Preparing a Girl for Womanhood ", " Coming of Age ", " The Girl's Puberty" Rite ")
  7. Tapa wankayeyapi , Tapa Wankaye Yapi , Tapa Wankaheyapi , Tȟápa Waŋkál Yeyápi , Tȟápa Kaȟ'ól Iyéyapi - the ritual ball game , in which a painted ball was symbolically thrown in all four directions as well as in the sky and on the earth to reflect the ubiquity of Tȟak (Wakan Tanka) to symbolize (English " The Throwing of the Ball Ceremony ")

In addition to these rites mentioned, there are other important ceremonies - including in particular the Yuwipi or Lowanpi , a healing ritual that usually took place at night and was carried out by a special type of Pejuta Wacasa - the so-called Yuwipi , which first cleansed itself and those present with a Inipi , during this ritual he was mostly ritually wrapped in a blanket and tied using Canli Pahta ("prayer cords ") - hence this form was called Yuwipi ("they wrap him up [in a blanket]" or "they tie him up") ); if there was no bondage, the ceremony was called Lowanpi . During the ceremony, the Yuwipi stood with the Wiwila (English " Little People ") as well as animal and mythical spirits , who, however, symbolically sucked the life force out of the Yuwipi so that the latter could heal the sick with his sacrifice; However, this constant physical and mental confrontation with strong spiritual spirits ( Wak spiráŋ or Wakan ) led, according to the conviction of the Lakota, to the fact that the Yuwipi did not have a good or a short and arduous life (this ritual is sometimes compared with the Midewiwin of the Anishinabe ) (English " Yuwipi Ceremony ").

It is sometimes controversial which ceremonies belong to the "Seven Sacred Rites", so that other listings can also be found (e.g. the puberty ritual is missing here - on the other hand, the chants are recorded as a separate ritual):

  • The sweat lodge - Inipi
  • The chants - Olowanpi , however , according to most accounts, ritual chants were sung during each ceremony.
  • The Vision Quest - Hanbleceya
  • The Sun Dance - Wiwang Wacipi
  • Guarding the Soul - Nagi Yuhapi
  • The marriage - Hunka Kacapi
  • The ball game - Tapa Wankaheyapi
A Sioux group from Charles Deas

Usually the Canupa (English " The Sacred Pipe Ceremony ") is viewed as an independent ritual, but is sometimes listed under the "Seven Sacred Rites".


The Dakota Sioux, who lived in the area west of the Great Lakes in the 17th century , were driven west by ethnic groups of the Algonquin , especially the Anishinabe . There they split up. While some remained in what is now the state of Minnesota and continued to farm, others migrated west and south. Their dialect changed over the years so that they were now called Lakota and Nakota instead of Dakota .

When the Lakota reached the Missouri around 1740, they were still a small, weak tribe that split into several hunting associations. There they met the fortified villages of the Arikara and Mandan , through which they probably got to know the horse for the first time. At the same time, the Lakota came to rifles via the French in the north. Between 1740 and 1760 the Oglala and Brulé also crossed the Missouri for the first time, which speaks for a political strengthening of the Lakota. The horse and the rifle laid the foundation for the later hegemonic superiority of the Lakota. The horse increased the mobility of the Lakota; the huge bison herds could now be followed almost indefinitely. And in an emergency, e.g. B. on the run from overpowering opponents, the Lakota could now cover up to thirty miles a day. As long as the Lakota only had muzzle-loaders, the rifle was initially a prestige object and at best provided advantages in warfare. The advent of breech-loaders and bolt-action rifles, in turn, allowed them to hunt bison much more efficiently, but also to conduct warfare more effectively.

In addition, the once powerful arable tribes of the Arikara, Hidatsa and Mandan were considerably weakened by various epidemics from the middle of the 18th century. Before a devastating epidemic in 1782 there were around 9,000 mandans in several villages protected by palisades, after which they were decimated to 3,600 tribal members. Lewis and Clark estimated it 20 years later at only about 1,250 people who were almost wiped out after the smallpox epidemic of 1837 and then joined the also heavily decimated Arikara and Hidatsa.

Due to the physical annihilation of their enemies, the once powerful prairie tribes , through epidemics, the Lakota gradually rose from 1820 to become a powerful Indian nation, which was able to expand its tribal territory at the expense of its neighbors. Around 1765 they first reached the Black Hills, which became their sacred mountains. There they first of all drove out the Cheyenne , their later allies. By 1876, the Lakota had driven, among others, the Kiowa , Absarokee , Pawnee and Shoshone from their original settlement and hunting areas.

Contact with the whites

In 1805 the Lakota signed the first treaty with the US government in which they guaranteed the United States its sovereignty. In the middle of the 19th century, the flow of new settlers into the Lakota land increased sharply. There was conflict and loss of life on both sides.

The Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1851 redefined the tribal boundaries and was intended to ensure peace between the whites and the signatory tribes. A total of around 10,000 Indians were present at the negotiations at Horse Creek near Fort Laramie - in addition to the Lakota, also the related Yankton , the allies Arapaho and Cheyenne as well as the hostile Absarokee, Eastern Shoshone , Assiniboine , Arikara, Mandan and Hidatsa. After two weeks, the treaty between the Lakota and the United States was in effect; the government representatives of the USA accepted the current military strength of the Lakota-Cheyenne-Arapaho Alliance - whose bands were aggressively advancing into the eastern tribal areas of the Absarokee (Crow) and already occupied large parts - and confirmed this contractually. The traditional tribal area and territories of hostile tribes that had just been won by military pressure were granted to the Lakota without land cessions, and the USA undertook to make annual payments to the Lakota. The land of the inferior and the Lakota hostile Absarokee, however, was drastically reduced to only 143,787 km². For the loss of their tribal areas east of the Powder River, the Absarokee received annual gifts from the whites. Many young warriors from the tribes signing the treaty did not allow themselves to be controlled and continued to engage in skirmishes with their traditional enemies. In return, the representatives of various Lakota bands allowed the USA to build roads and military posts on their land, for example for the Oregon Trail . As a result, this overland route repeatedly led to disputes between the Lakota and the whites. The settlers who passed through there brought diseases with them and drove away the bison.

One of the consequences of the negotiations was that the Black Hills (in Lakȟótiyapi : pahá sápa or Ȟe Sápa - "hills that are black (covered by forests)") and Bighorn Mountains , which were once part of the tribal territory of the hostile Absarokee (Crow) and Eastern Shoshone (in the northeast of Wyoming and in the west of South Dakota) - annexed militarily by the Lakota since approx. 1840/1850 - successfully (until today) against outsiders (especially government representatives) in contract negotiations and in the general public as " Your Holy Mountains " and could be propagated and enforced as a “traditional” tribal area.

The first major conflict arose in 1854. A Minneconjou Lakota with the Brulé group of Conquering Bear killed a white settler's cow after it wreaked havoc in the Lakota camp. The Fort Laramie commander sent Lieutenant John L. Grattan to ask Conquering Bear to extradite the culprit. Since this was not a member of the Brulé, Conquering Bear could not comply with the request. There was a dispute between Grattan and the Brulé chief, who was shot in the back by a soldier and fatally wounded. The enraged Brulé-Lakota then killed the entire Grattan commando, which consisted of 30 soldiers. As a result, Lakota warriors regularly attacked white settlers on the Oregon Trail. A year later established General William S. Harney with Fort Pierre another military post on the Missouri. On September 3, he attacked the Brulé village of Little Thunder , which, however, had not been involved in the fight against Grattan. Harney's force killed 86 Brulé and captured another 70.

In 1856 representatives of all Lakota, Yankton and Yanktonai groups met with General Harney at Fort Pierre. The chief of Minneconjou One Horn handed over the warrior who had killed the cow. In 1859 the Absarokee fought back the Lakota, Arapaho and Cheyenne bands advancing into their eastern tribal areas one last time.

Lakota chief Red Cloud, 1822–1909

Fort Laramie Peace Treaty, 1868

In the violent suppression of the Sioux uprising (also: "Dakota conflict" or "Dakota war") several bands of the Eastern Dakota in 1862 in Minnesota, the Western Dakota (Yankton and Yanktonai) were also involved. The Yankton / Yanktonai had mostly stayed out of the fighting, but since the military and the American militia made no distinction between the individual bands, innocent groups were often victims of bloody reprisals. Out of fear and in order to evade the violent attack of the military, many Indians either fled to Canada (mostly Eastern Dakota) or joined the related Lakota and their allies - the Cheyenne and Arapaho - on the Northern Plains (mostly Western Dakota); With this, these too were now increasingly drawn into the conflicts along the advancing frontier .

From 1864 the attacks of the Lakota and the allied Arapaho and Cheyenne on white settlers increased; in particular the Oglala under Red Cloud stood out. The constant raids led to the US surrendering in the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868 .

In this treaty, the area of ​​the entire present-day US state of South Dakota west of the Missouri River to the Platte River, including the Black Hills (from the northern border in Nebraska to the 46th parallel and from Missouri in the east to the 104th meridian in the west ) as Indian land for unrestricted and unmolested use and settlement by the Great Sioux Nation and the Great Sioux Reservation established. Land assignments should only be possible if at least three-quarters of all adult male Sioux living on reservation areas agree. The treaty was preceded by the Red Cloud War (1866-1868), a war that meant a complete victory for the Lakota for the time being. Because of this, the Lakota were in a good negotiating position and were able to “reserve” the large area in what is now South Dakota for themselves. The USA unconditionally gave up all military stations within this territory, could only obtain permission to build the Northern Pacific Railroad in the Lakota area. For this, the Lakota were guaranteed annual payments for the next 30 years. For this purpose, an agency was set up on the Missouri River, later other agencies followed. In addition to the reservation area, they and their allies were given extensive hunting and fishing rights in what is now the US states of Wyoming, Montana and Nebraska. Since the area was populated by several Indian tribes (in particular the Absarokee, Assiniboine, Blackfoot, Eastern Shoshone, and others), several bases of the Bureau of Indian Affairs were set up in their former territories to prevent clashes.

The last war

In 1873 the construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad was completed. In 1874 Colonel George A. Custer found gold in the Black Hills. After the US government tried unsuccessfully to buy the Black Hills from the Lakota in 1875, it ordered the Lakota to be relocated to Indian reservations. In a large-scale campaign, US forces under Colonel John Gibbon , General Alfred Terry and General George Crook attacked the Lakota from different directions. There was some fierce fighting. George A. Custer led part of Terry's armed forces. The battle that he and his men fought against the Lakota in June 1876, in which Custer and 215 members of the 7th US Cavalry Regiment lost their lives, is probably the most famous battle between the Indians and the US military. It went down in history as the Battle of Little Bighorn . At this point, many Lakota were already on reservations.

Sitting Bull

The Battle of Little Bighorn was the last attempt to defend the ascribed land rights of the Great Sioux Reservation and represented a final rebellion of the still free allied tribes of the Lakota, Northern Arapaho and Northern Cheyenne to preserve their traditional way of life and to put a stop to the slaughter of the bison herds Offer. The targeted killing of bison and the massive shooting of Indian ponies and free-living mustangs had deprived the Plains tribes of their livelihood as well as their mobility and both contributed to the fact that the Indians were decisively weakened militarily.

The tribes were victorious as before, but after a grueling winter of 1877 either the leading chiefs of the defensive struggle fled across the border to Canada ( Sitting Bull ) or surrendered after a constant flight and arduous retreat due to a famine ( Crazy Horse ). On September 5th, Chief Crazy Horse was murdered at Camp Robinson. This event marked the end of the Lakota resistance to the whites. All of the Lakota were now on reservations or in Canada.

In the late 1880s, many Lakota joined the ghost dance movement. The movement prophesied the resurgence of the Indians and unsettled the whites, although the movement consisted exclusively of peaceful ceremonies. On December 29, 1890, the US Army massacred the ghost dancers near Wounded Knee , who had already surrendered and were disarmed. More than 300 Lakota died. This massacre destroyed the Lakota's last hope.

Life in reservations

The Lakota were assigned six reservations that comprised only a fraction of their former land.

The living conditions in the reserves are devastating, life expectancy is only 44 years. Part of the explanation for this is that the Lakota death rate is the highest in the United States. Child mortality alone is three times the average in the United States, and the youth suicide rate is 1.5 times the average for this group. Alcohol and other drugs also play an important role here, more than half of adults are dependent on alcohol or other drugs, and 8 out of 10 families are affected by alcoholism. Poor health care contributes to early mortality, with tuberculosis rates 800% higher than the United States average on the Lakota reservations, while the supply of high-sugar foods to residents causes diabetes and heart disease.

The social circumstances make normal development difficult. 97% of Lakota people live below the poverty line and the median annual income is $ 2,600- $ 3,500. The unemployment rate is 85% higher in the reserves than outside. The incarceration rate of Native American children is 40 percent higher than that of whites, and a total of 21 percent of South Dakota's state prisoners are Native. For many families, living in poverty means that they cannot afford heating oil, wood or gas, and many residents use stoves to heat their homes. Every winter old people die of hypothermia.

The housing situation is catastrophic, according to estimates, an average of 17 people share an apartment consisting of only two or three rooms. In some apartments, which were built for 6 to 8 people, up to 30 people live. A third of the apartments lack clean water and sewage treatment plants and 40% lack electricity. 60% of the families on the reservations do not have a telephone. 60% of the homes are probably infected with Aspergillus niger ; this mold can cause fatal diseases.

Although the Lakota live together, the original Lakota language is not passed on. Only 14% of the Lakota population can speak this language, while the average age of Lakota speakers is 65 years. This makes the Lakota language one of the threatened languages that are on the verge of extinction.

Declaration of Independence

Republic of Lakota
Republic of Lakota logo
Russel Means

A group called the Lakota Freedom Delegation under their leader Russell Means declared the independence of the Lakota from the USA on December 20, 2007 in Washington and proclaimed the Republic of Lakotah . In a note handed over to the State Department of the United States of America, they terminated all 33 of the contracts concluded with the United States over the course of time, because the colonists had not kept them to this day.

Avis Little Eagle, Vice-Chair of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council , said of the Lakota Freedom Delegation and their statement: “I understand why you are doing this, but we as elected officials refer to the contracts in our day-to-day work these are valid documents. ( I see where they're coming from, but we, as elected officials, on a daily basis we refer to those treaties because to us they are living documents ). “The Council will discuss the declaration. Many tribal governments are frustrated with the lack of federal support for health care, law enforcement, and other treaty obligations. “ If this gets us attention, it may have been good. “Before the declaration of independence, she said she was not informed about the plans of the delegation.

Očhéthi Šakówiŋ or the Seven Council Fires of the Sioux

The Sioux formed a loose alliance of three regional dialect and tribal groups, which they called Oceti Sakowin or Očhéthi Šakówiŋ ('The Fire of the Seven Tribes', 'The Seven Council Fires'), as they were made up of seven Otonwepi (blood and language-related subgroups; Singular: Otonwe or Tȟuŋwaŋ ) passed. The Očhéthi Šakówiŋ included (from east to west) the four Otonwepi of the Eastern Dakota (Mdewakanton, Wahpekute, Sisseton and Wahpeton), the two Otonwepi of the Western Dakota (Yankton and Yanktonai) and, as the largest Otonwe itself / Tȟuŋwaŋ, the Lakota / Tȟuŋwa:

1. (Eastern) Dakota or Dakhóta (also: Santee-Sisseton or Santee)

  • Santee (Isáŋyathi - 'Knife Makers') or "Upper Council of the Dakota", "Upper Sioux"
    • Mdewakanton (Bdewákhathuŋwaŋ - 'Dwellers of the Spirit Lake', 'Dwellers by the Sacred Lake')
    • Wahpekute (Waȟpékhute - 'Shooters Among the Trees')
  • Sisseton or "Lower Council of the Dakota", "Lower Sioux"
    • Sisseton (Sisíthuŋwaŋ - 'Dwellers in the Swamps', 'Fish Ground Dwellers', 'Marsh Dwellers', 'People of the Marsh')
    • Wahpeton (Waȟpéthuŋwaŋ - 'Dwellers Among the Leaves')

2. Western Dakota or Dakȟóta (also: Yankton-Yanktonai), formerly incorrectly called Nakota (the autonym of the enemy Stoney and Assiniboine )

  • Yankton (Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋ - "People of the End [of the Village]")
  • Yanktonai (Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna - "People of the End [of the Little Village]")

3. Lakota or Thítȟuŋwaŋ / Teton ("inhabitants of the prairie, i.e. the plains")

The Mdewakanton were the leading Otonwe / Tȟuŋwaŋ of the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ until the Eastern Dakota uprising in Minnesota in 1862 , but had to transfer their position within the alliance to the largest Óšpaye / Oyate as a result of the defeat, in which they suffered great losses in men and combat strength (Tribe) of the Lakota, the Oglala , cede.

Originally the Assiniboine (and their close relatives, the Stoney) also belonged to the Sioux peoples, but had already allied themselves with the more numerous Cree in the middle of the 17th century and founded a strong trade and military alliance (at the beginning of the 18th century they formed in addition, the Plains Ojibwa stretched west and south- west), which was soon referred to as the Cree Confederation or Iron Confederacy ("Iron Confederation"), the Indians named this alliance after the two dominating peoples simply as Nehiyaw-Pwat (in Cree: Nehiyaw - 'Cree' and Pwat or Pwat-sak - 'Sioux (enemies)'). As early as the 17th century, European traders and travelers reported that the Assiniboine used Cree as a second language - many Cree bands also spoke Assiniboine. As a powerful middleman in the fur trade, they came to European weapons and this better weapons equipment allowed the Cree Confederation to expand west, south and north, taking military action against the Chipewyan in the north and the Dakota in the south (1670-1700). For the Sioux (Dakota, Nakota, Lakota) the Assiniboine no longer belonged to the Oceti Sakowin - they were only enemies for them, which they therefore simply called high ("rebels").

Socio-political organization of the Lakota

Just like the Očhéthi Šakówi , the Lakota themselves were divided into seven Óšpayepi or Oyate ( tribes ), which in turn were divided into numerous separate Thiyóšpaye ( bands ), each of which had its own Itȟáŋčhaŋ / Itancan ( chief ) and a Pȟoȟó wiča advising them / Omníčiye wičháša (tribal council), these men were supported and advised by a Wicasa Wakan ( holy man ) and Pȟežúta wičháša / Pejuta Wacasa ( healer ) as well as the respective Blotahunka (leaders of the warrior societies ). There was also the Ogle Tanka Un ('Shirt Wearer', i.e. war chief ), who led the warriors in war. The individual bands (mostly around 50 to 100 people) were again divided into several Wicoti ( local groups ) (English local bands ), which were made up of one or more extended families and together a Wicoti thipi ( camp ) formed; thus their relatives were linked by blood, marriage, and adoption. The smallest organizational unit formed the Tiwáhe ( nuclear family ), which mostly lived in a Thípi ( tipi ) or two neighboring tipis and thus formed a common Ti-ognaka ( household ).

Most of the year these bands spent individually in camps, but in summer they gathered in larger villages to hunt the buffalo and celebrate the sun dance. The tipis were set up in a large circle called ho-coka ( camp circle ). There was a fixed order in which each band and family had their specific place. The camp circle consisted of a large C-shaped ring, mostly open to the east, which was up to four rows deep in about 1,000 tipis and formed a circle about 2 km in diameter. Particularly honorable were certain places in the circle, like the horns, that is how the two flanks to the right and left of the entrance or Tiyopa were called. The chief's tip was in the middle of the circle opposite the entrance. The name Hunkpapa / Húŋkpapȟa ('Camps at the Edge', 'End of Entrance', 'Head of the Camp Circle', 'Camps at End of Horns') is an honorary designation for these Óšpaye and refers to their traditional place at the "Horns" of the camp circle (and thus at the end or at the beginning), because the trunk traditionally had its place on the right or left at the entrance to the camp circle. The Oglala / Oglála, in turn, were the largest and most powerful of the Lakota- Óšpaye . The boundaries between the seven Óšpayepi were not fixed but overlapped. The various Óšpayepi (tribes) and their thiyóšpaye (bands) met regularly to hunt together or for ceremonies.

After 1720 , the Lakota were divided into two large regional groups, the Saône (the later: Hunkpapa, Sihasapa, Minneconjou, Itazipco and Two Kettles) moved into the Lake Traverse area along the South Dakota-North Dakota-Minnesota border and the Oglála- Brulé (Sičháŋǧu) who lived in the James River Valley . However, the Saône had already reached the east bank of the Missouri River around 1750 , followed by the Oglála and Brulé (Sičháŋǧu) about 10 years later.

The great and once militarily powerful tribes along the Upper Missouri River, the Arikara , Mandan and Hidatsa , had long understood how to prevent the Lakota from crossing the Missouri. However, after about two-thirds of the tribe members had been killed by the great smallpox epidemic of these three tribes from 1772-1780, the Lakota were able to cross the river unhindered and now had access to the rich bison hunting grounds of the High Plains.

Tribes and bands of the Lakota

  • Northern Lakota , Northern Lakota
    • Hunkpapa or Húŋkpapȟa / Húkpapȟa ('Camps at the Edge', 'End of [the Camp] Entrance', 'Head of the Camp Circle', 'Camps at End of Horns')
      • Icira ('Band that separated and went together again')
        • Tinazipe Sica ('Bad Bows')
        • Talonapin ('Raw Meat Necklace')
        • Kiglaska ('Tied in the Middle')
        • Ceknake Okisela ('Half Breechcloth')
        • Siksicela ('Bad Ones')
      • Canka Ohan ('Sore-Backs of horses')
        • True Canka Ohan
        • Ce Ohba (Droopy Penis)
        • Wakan ('Sacred')
        • Hunska Canto-Juha ('Legging Tobacco Pouch')
    • Sihasapa or Sihásapa ('Black Soles of the Foot', mostly reproduced as 'Blackfeet' or 'Blackfoot Sioux', notto be confusedwith the hostile Algonquin-speaking Blackfoot )
      • Sihasapa-Hkcha ('Real Blackfoot')
      • Kangi-shun Pegnake ('Crow Feather Hair Ornaments')
      • Glaglahecha ('Slovenly' or 'Untidy')
      • Wazhazha ('Osage')
      • High ('Rebels' - 'Assiniboine')
      • Wamnuga Owin ('Cowrie-Shell Earrings')
  • Central Lakota , Middle Lakota
    • Minneconjou or Mnikȟówožu / Hoȟwóžu ('Plants by the Water', 'Planters by the stream or water')
      • Unkche yuta ('Dung Eaters')
      • Glaglaheca ('Untidy', 'Slovenly', 'Shiftless')
      • Shunka yute shni ('Eat No Dogs', split off from the Wanhin Wega )
      • Nige Tanka ('Big Belly')
      • Wakpokinyan ('Flies Along the River')
      • Inyan ha oin ('Musselshell Earring')
      • Siksicela or Shikshichela ('Bad Ones', 'Bad ones of different kinds')
      • Wagleza-oin ('Gartersnake Earring')
      • Wanhin Wega ('Broken Arrow', the Shunka yute shni and Oóhenuŋpa split off around 1840, the latter became independent)
    • Itazipco or Itázipe Čholá / Itázipčho (also: Itazipcola , Hazipco - 'Those who hunt without bows', 'No Bows / Without Bows', French Sans Arc )
      • Itazipco-hca ('Real Itazipco')
      • Mini sala ('Red Water')
      • Sina luta oin or Shinalutaoin ('Red Cloth Earring')
      • Woluta yuta ('Eat dried venison from the hindquarter', 'Ham Eaters')
      • Maz pegnaka ('Wear Metal Hair Ornament')
      • Tatanka Cesli or Tatankachesli ('Dung of a buffalo bull')
      • Siksicela or Shikshichela ('Bad Ones', 'Bad ones of different kinds')
      • Tiyopa Canupa or Tiyopaoshanunpa ('Smokes at the Entrance')
    • Two Kettles or Oóhenuŋpa / Oohenonpa ('Two Boiling', 'Two Kettles', once part of the Wanhin Wega Band of the Minneconjou, independent from around 1840)
      • Wanuwaktenula ('Killed Accidentally')
      • Sunka-yutesni ('Eat No Dogs', originally a splinter group of the Shunka yute shni ('Eat No Dogs') Band , which had also split from the Minneconjou's Wanhin Wega Band )
      • Minisa-la ('Red Water', originally a splinter group of the Mini sala ('Red Water') band of the Itázipčho)
      • Oiglapta ('Take All That Is Left')
  • Southern Lakota , Southern Lakota
    • Brulé or Sičháŋǧu / Sicangu ('Burnt Thighs')
      • Upper Brulé ( Heyata Wicasa Oyate )
      • Lower Brulé ( Kul Wicasa Oyate )
      • Brulé of the Platte (River)
    • Oglala or Oglála ('Scatter Their Own', 'Scatters Its Own', also: 'Likes to Go Home')
      • Oyúȟpe Thiyóšpaye
        • True Oyúȟpe ( Oyúȟpe - 'Broken Off', leading group)
        • Wakȟáŋ ('Holy')
        • Makȟáiču
      • Oglála Thiyóšpaye
        • True Oglála
        • Čhaŋkȟahuȟaŋ
        • Hokayuta
        • Húŋkpathila
        • Itéšiča ('Bad Face')
        • Payabya ('Shove Aside')
        • Waglúȟe
      • Khiyáksa Thiyóšpaye
        • True Khiyáksa
        • Kuinyan
        • Tȟaphíšleča ('Spleen', 'Melt')

Today's tribes and First Nations of the Lakota

Tribes in the USA

The various tribes and groups of the Lakota are today, mostly together with members of the Nakota and Dakota tribal groups of the Sioux, organized and registered in the following federally recognized tribes :

United States - North Dakota

  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (the Standing Rock Indian Reservation with its administrative seat Fort Yates , ND, is the northernmost of the reservations that emerged from the Great Sioux Reservation, which were created in 1889. The reservation, about 9,200 km² in size, lies on both sides of the North border and South Dakota and isbounded to thesouth by the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation , to the north by the Cannonball River and to the east by Lake Oahe , the dammed Missouri River , the Grand River also flows throughthe southern part of the reservation. Sitting on the reservation is the grave of Sitting Bull and a memorial for Sacajawea , tribal groups: Nakota , Lakota, tribes: Yanktonai : Cutheads ( Pabaska , Paksa or Natakaksa ) of the Upper Yanktonai (Ihanktonwana) and groups of the Lower Yanktonai (Hunkpatina), mostly live in the North Dakota part of the reserve Lakota: Hunkpapa and Sihasapa (Blackfeet), now mostly live in the South Dakota part of the reservation, in 2005 the unemployment rate was 86.00%, Stam Total members (whites and Indians): 16,420 (thereof 12,828 Sioux), of which 8,217, including 6,414 Sioux, live in the reservation)

United States - South Dakota

  • Rosebud Sioux Tribe of the Sicangu Oyate (also Sičháŋǧu Oyate , Sicangu Lakota or Upper Brulé Sioux Nation , the Rosebud Indian Reservation with the administrative seat Rosebud , covers about 3,571 km² in the extreme south of South Dakota and borders on South Dakota Nebraska -Border, in the east the Keya Paha River and in the west the Little White River flows throughthe reservation, tribal group: Lakota, tribes: Upper Brulé (Heyata Wicasa Oyate - 'Highland People'), Brulé of the Platte, some Oglala and some with Dakota - Ponca descent, who todayidentifyas Ponca , total tribe members (whites and Indians): 20,481 (18,443 of them Sioux), of which 10,869, including 9,809 Sioux, live in the reservation)
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe (also Oglala Lakota Nation , the Pine Ridge Reservation (Wazí Aháŋhaŋ Oyáŋke or Oglala Oyanke) with the administrative seat Pine Ridge and an area of ​​approx. 11,000 km², is located in the southwest of South Dakota on the border with Nebraska . The White River flows through this in West and forms the border in the north, in the extreme northwest it borders on the Cheyenne River. The reservation is considered the poorest area in the United States, the unemployment rate in the reservation is 85.00%. The reservation is the memorial and the site of the massacre of Wounded Knee as well as parts of Badlands National Park , tribal group: Lakota, tribes: Oglala, some Upper Brulé (Heyata Wicasa Oyate - 'Highland People'), approx. 35,000 to 40,000 tribal members (whites and Indians, including approx. 50 , 00% Sioux), live in the reserve, one third of the reserve residents state Lakȟótiyapi as their mother tongue)
  • Lower Brule Sioux Tribe (the Lower Brule Reservation, with its administrative headquarters in Lower Brule , SD, covers approximately 537 km² and almost 130 km of the shores of Lake Sarpe, the reservation borders the Crow Creek Indian Reservation tothe east, both reservations are crossed by the Missouri River separated, tribal group: Lakota, tribe: Lower Brulé (Kul Wicasa Oyate), approx. 1,308 tribe members live in the reservation)
  • Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (The Cheyenne River Indian Reservation is over 12,141 km² in the middle of South Dakota. Three major rivers - the Missouri River ( Mni Sose - 'Turbid Water' or 'Rolly Water'), Cheyenne River and the Moreau River ( Hinhan Wakpa - 'Owl River') - flow through these, in the north it is bounded by the Standing Rock Indian Reservation , in the east by the Missouri River and in the south by the Cheyenne River, administrative headquarters: Eagle Butte , SD, tribal group: Lakota, Tribes: Minneconjou (Minnecojou or Mnikoju), Two Kettles (Oohenumpa or Owohe Nupa), Itazipco (Itazipa Cola - Sans Arc or Without Bows), Sihasapa (Siha Sapa - Blackfeet), total tribe members (whites and Indians): 16,192 (including 12,662 Sioux), of which 8,090, including 6,331 Sioux, live in the reservation)

United States - Montana

  • Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes (the Fort Peck Indian Reservation with its administrative headquarters in Poplar extends in northeast Montana north of the Missouri River from west to east approx. 180 km and from south to north approx. 65 km and comprises approx. 8,290 km², tribal groups : Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, tribes: Hunkpapa, Cutheads ( Pabaksa , Paksa or Natakaksa ) of the Upper Yanktonai ('Ihanktonwana'), Sisseton, Wahpeton and the following groups of the Assiniboine: Hudesabina ('Red Bottom'), Wadopabina ('Canoe Paddler '), Wadopahnatonwan (' Canoe Paddlerrs Who Live on the Prairie '), Sahiyaiyeskabi (' Plains Cree-Speakers'), Inyantonwanbina ('Stone People') and the Fat Horse Band, around 6,000 of the approx.11,786 tribe members live on the Reservation)

First Nation in Canada

The only First Nation in Canada of the Lakota tribal group is located in the Prairie Province of Saskatchewan . It consists of the descendants of Hunkpapa who fled northwards under the leadership of Sitting Bull after the Battle of Little Bighorn .

Canada - Saskatchewan

File Hills Qu'Appelle Tribal Council

  • Wood Mountain Dakota First Nation (also known as Moose Jaw Sioux , their only reservation is about 135 km southwest of Moose Jaw , Saskatchewan, the administrative seat is Assiniboia 110 km southwest of Moose Jaw, tribal group: Lakota, tribe: Hunkpapa, reservation: Wood Mountain # 160, approx. 23.76 km², 8 of the 264 tribe members live on the reservation)


Kevin Costner dedicated his film Dances with Wolves to the Lakota, in which he tried to portray not only their way of life in the 1860s, but also their language as authentically as possible.

See also


Web links

Commons : Lakota  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  1. This also reflects the Cheyenne name for the Lakota as Ho'óhomo'eo'o (“the invited ones (to Cheyenne lands i.e. the Black Hills)”), since the Cheyenne roamed these mountains before the Lakota
  2. the Great Sioux Reservation originally comprised 240,000 km² in South Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming, in 1876 the US government violated the treaty of 1868 and opened 31,000 km² of the area of ​​the reservation in the Black Hills for private interests. In 1889 the remaining area of ​​the Sioux Reservation was divided into several separate reservations: Standing Rock Indian Reservation, Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, Crow Creek Indian Reservation , Lower Brule Reservation , Rosebud Indian Reservation , Lake Traverse Indian Reservation , Yankton Sioux Indian Reservation and Pine Ridge reservation

Individual evidence

  1. according to Fromm p. 191 u. Footnote 35: "Dakota", but what is meant here is the Lakota according to the ethnography used: Margaret Mead (Ed.) Jeannette Mirsky: The Dakota in Cooperation and Competition Among Primitive Peoples. Beacon Press, Boston 1961, pp: 382-427.
  2. Erich Fromm: Anatomy of human destructiveness . From the American by Liselotte et al. Ernst Mickel, 86th - 100th thousand edition, Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1977, ISBN 3-499-17052-3 , pp. 191-192.
  3. Martin Nizhoní Gollner-Marin: IKCE WICASA - The Lakota struggle for survival and the love of wisdom (PDF; 2.4 MB), inaugural dissertation to obtain a doctorate from the Philosophical Faculties of the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg i.Br. , 1994
  4. a b Christian F. Feest : Animated Worlds - The Religions of the Indians of North America. In: Small Library of Religions , Vol. 9, Herder, Freiburg / Basel / Vienna 1998, ISBN 3-451-23849-7 . Pp. 127, 155, 191, 201.
  5. Joshua Project: United States ( February 19, 2016 memento in the Internet Archive ) (Lakota), accessed January 2, 2016.
  6. Barry M. Pritzker: A Native American Encyclopedia. History, Culture and Peoples. Oxford University Press, New York 2000, ISBN 978-0-19-513877-1 . P. 335.
  7. ^ Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center and St. Joseph's Indian School - Seven Lakota Rites
  8. ^ Republic of Lakotah - Seven Sacred Rites of the Lakotah Oyate
  9. ^ The Singing Stone - Indigenous American Spirituality and Song - Yuwipi Ceremony
  10. ^ The Avalon Project: Fort Laramie Treaty, 1868
  11. ^ Matt Rosenberg: Sioux Declare Independence from the US (No longer available online.) In: Daily Jeffersonian. December 25, 2007, archived from the original on August 4, 2014 ; accessed on August 27, 2011 (English).
  12. AFP, December 19, 2007, Descendants of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse break away from US ( Memento of December 21, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  13. ^ Mike Nowatzki: More on the Lakota from Wahela Bluejay. Tribe official says council will consider treaty pullout. (No longer available online.) In: tribe. December 27, 2007, archived from the original on April 9, 2014 ; accessed on August 27, 2011 (English).
  14. ^ History of the Council Fires ( Memento from February 25, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  15. Hunkpapa ( Memento from June 30, 2006 in the Internet Archive )
  16. Lakota Language Bowl Vocabulary Packet 2013 (source for names of the tribes / bands as well as socio-political supplements and sacred pipe in Lakota)
  17. ^ Blackfoot Sioux ( Memento from August 26, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  18. ^ Minneconjou and San Arc bands
  19. Two Kettles
  20. Lower Brule Sioux Tribe ( Memento from May 2, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  21. Homepage of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
  22. ^ North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission - TRIBAL DATA
  23. ^ Homepage of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe
  24. Mary Bakeman: Legends, Letters, and Lies: Readings About Inkpaduta and the Spirit Lake Massacre , page 168, ISBN 978-0-915709-77-9
  25. Homepage of the Oglala Lakota Nation (Oglala Sioux Tribe) ( Memento from December 9, 2012)
  26. Homepage of the KUL WICASA OYATE - Lower Brule Sioux Tribe
  27. Homepage of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
  28. ^ Homepage of Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes
  29. History of the Fort Peck Reservation ( Memento from October 22, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  30. ^ Homepage of the File Hills Qu'Appelle Tribal Council