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

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Sioux Tribe

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Sioux Buffalo Hunt
The Sioux used horses to catch buffalo,
their main source of food.

The Sioux, also known as the Dakota or the Lakota, were made up of seven different tribes that lived over a large area in the Great Plains of the United States. Their original territory included Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, and Minnesota. They were nomads, who migrated according to the season and the movement of the buffalo, their main food. The Sioux originally grew crops, but once they moved onto the plains, their primary food became the buffalo. They grew very few crops, and mostly traded weapons and meat with other tribes for corn.

Sioux Women
Sioux women were never chief, but they
were in charge of the house. They gathered
berries and plants for food and created clothes
and crafts such as the ones shown in the picture.

A man in the Sioux tribe would usually be awarded the title of "Chief" as recognition for brave or outstanding behavior. However, the chief did not make decisions for his tribe. Instead, a tribe council, and sometimes even the entire tribe, would vote on what to do in a situation. Women were allowed to vote and owned property in the Sioux tribe. Though men were expected to hunt and fight, women were in charge of the house. Children were considered sacred by the Sioux and were given a lot of attention.

Sioux Tepee
Sioux tepees were made of wooden
sticks and sometimes up to fifteen
buffalo skins stitched together.

Buffaloes were used as food, clothing, housing, and weapons. Though they mostly ate buffalo, the Sioux also hunted elk and deer. They would tan the hides of these animals and use them as clothing. The women wore dresses, the men pants, breechcloths, and shirts, and all of them wore moccasins. Both men and women also wore their hair long. Sioux tepees, which were almost fifteen feet high, were made of buffalo-hide. Because the Sioux migrated often, their tepees were easily assembled and disassembled. The Sioux used shields, bows and arrows, spears, and clubs while hunting and fighting. Shields and bowstrings were usually made from buffalo.

Sioux Rituals
Since the Sioux were animistic,
their rituals were to nature and the sun.

For the Sioux, war was a major part of their lives, and an initiation rite for young Sioux men included getting a scalp. In addition to beadwork, quillwork, and pottery, the Sioux created buffalo-hide paintings, which most Sioux women wore. The Sioux told many legends to explain the world around them and to teach their children. They were also animistic, which meant that they believed in the power of nature. For this reason, they performed many tribal dances in honor of the sun and other parts of their environment. The Sioux also believed that white buffaloes were the most sacred animals in the world, and therefore never hunted them.

Sioux Chief Sitting Bull
Chief Sitting Bull, a medicine man
and a warrior, led theSioux against
the settlers. He and his son, along with
other followers, were shot when the
Indian Police were trying to arrest him.

When French settlers first arrived, the Sioux were forced to move further west onto the plains, where they split into seven different clans. Later, gold was found in the Black Hills, leading to a gold rush in Sioux territory. Led by brave chiefs (including the famous chiefs Sitting Bull and Red Cloud), the Sioux resisted American attempts to take their land. At first, the Americans tried to convince the Sioux to sell their land. When this failed, they decided to take the land by force.

 

 

 

Sioux Warriors
The Sioux Indians fought fiercely against
the Americans to defend their territory.

This led to many violent encounters such as the Battle of Little Big Horn (a.k.a. Custer's Last Stand) and the Battle of Wounded Knee. The Battle of Little Big Horn was a famous Native American victory, but despite winning the battle, the Native Americans lost many of their tribe members, including women and children, to the settlers' attacks. Eventually, the Sioux were defeated and forced onto reservations throughout the northern United States, where most of them live today. However, a few tribes managed to escape to Canada during the war and continue to practice their culture in the North.

 

Books on the Sioux

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Links to other sites on the Sioux

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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/
siouan/siouanfamilyhist.htm
 

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