Sioux Tribe

Custom Search

Native Americans:

Native Americans


Tribes and Culture

Economy and Government


New Settlers












Social Studies Videos

Social Studies Main Index


Native Americans were the first people to live in America. Learn more about the Sioux tribe.

On this Page:

Sioux Tribe

Top of Page

Siouan Family, the most populous linguistic family North of Mexico, next to the Algonquian. The name is taken from a 'term applied to the largest and best known tribal group or confederacy belonging to the family, the Sioux or Dakota, which, in turn, is an abbreviation of Nadowessioux, a French corruption of Nadowe-is-iw, the appellation given them by the Chippewa. It signifies 'snake,' 'adder,' and, by metaphor, 'enemy.' See Dakota. Before changes of domicile took place among them, resulting from contact with whites, the principal body extended from the west bank of the Mississippi northward from the Arkansas nearly to the Rocky Mountains, except for certain sections held by the Pawnee, Arikara, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Black feet, Comanche, and Kiowa. The Dakota proper also occupied territory on the east side of the river, from the mouth of the Wisconsin to Mille Lacs, and the Winnebago were about the lake of that name and the head of Green bay. Northward Siouan tribes extended some distance into Canada, in the direction of Lake Winnipeg.

The tribes of the Manahoac confederacy were encountered by Capt. John Smith in 1608, but after that time all of the eastern Siouan decreased rapidly in numbers through Iroquois attacks and European aggression. Finally the remnants of the northern tribes, consisting chiefly of Tutelo and Saponi, accompanied the Tuscarora northward to the Iroquois and were adopted by the Cayuga in 1753. On the destruction of their village by Sullivan in 1779 they separated, the Saponi remaining with the Cayuga in New York, while the Tutelo fled to Canada with other Cayuga. Iberville, who found them in 1699 on Pascagoula River, Miss, first noted the Biloxi. In the next century they moved northwest and settled on Red river, La., where the remnant was found by Gatschet in 1886 and their affinities determined. These people reported that another section had moved into Texas and joined the Choctaw.

The first known meeting between any western Siouans and the whites was in 1541, when De Soto reached the Quapaw villages in east Arkansas. The earliest notice of the main northwestern group is probably that in the Jesuit Relation of 1640, where mention is made of the Winnebago, Dakota, and Assiniboin. As early as 1658 the Jesuit missionaries had heard of the existence of 30 Dakota villages in the region north from the Potawatomi mission at St. Michael, about the head of Green bay, Wis. In 1680 Father Hennepin was taken prisoner by the same tribe. Taking the reports of the United States and Canadian Indian offices as a basis and making a small allowance for bands or individuals not here enumerated the total number of Indians of Siouan stock may be placed at about 40,800.

It is impossible to make statements of the customs and habits of these people that will be true for the entire group. Nearly all of the eastern tribes and most of the southern tribes belonging to the western group raised corn, but the Dakota (except some of the eastern bands) and the Crows depended almost entirely on the buffalo and other game animals, the buffalo entering very deeply into the economic and religious life of all the tribes of this section. In the east the habitations were, bark and mat wigwams, but on the plains earth lodges and skin tipis were used.

Life of a Sioux Indian

Top of Page

A nomadic people, the Sioux of the 1800's existed by hunting food and gathering materials off the land, living in close harmony with their environment. They inhabited a region covering the States of Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska South Dakota and Wyoming, with the Ogallala living in the Southwest. Various animals, which grazed the terrain, provided the Indian with his food, clothing, tools, and transportation. For example, the buffalo provided not only meat but also hides for lodgings (tepees) and clothing. The animal's bones were used for scrapers, needles, and arrowheads and glue was made from the hoofs.

Originally sedentary farmers in the South-eastern States of South Carolina and Georgia, the introduction of the horse into North America by the Spanish radically changed their culture. In the early 1700s, the Sioux adopted the horse as their primary means of transportation, abandoned the farmer's life and began a gradual migration to the Plains, becoming predators. A short stout bow easily shot from horseback, became a necessity. The most fascinating item of the display is the authentic quiver and bow case. Made from two separate pieces of hand leather, probably deer or antelope, they are laced together with hide strips and decorated with red felt, white, yellow, blue and brown trade beads, red dyed horse hair and small iron bells. The beads, bells, and felt are all trade items.


Books on the Sioux

Top of Page



Links to other sites on the Sioux

Top of Page

Teton Sioux Indians http://www.pbs.org/lewisandclark/native/tet.html
Black Elk - Sioux Holy Man http://www.indians.org/welker/blackelk.htm
White Buffalo Hunter http://www.merceronline.com/Native/native05.htm
Battle of Little Big Horn http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/custer.htm
The Sioux http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/WWsioux.htm
Genealogy Resources http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/tribes/

Top of Page

Copyright © 1998-2012 Kidport