The Great Sioux Nation is also called The Lakota Nation, Tetons and the Western Sioux. The people of the Sioux Nation refer to themselves as Lakota/Dakota which means friend or ally. The United States government took the word Sioux from (Nadowesioux), which comes from a Chippewa (Ojibway) word which means little snake or enemy. The French traders and trappers who worked with the Chippewa (Ojibway) people shortened the word to Sioux.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe encompasses the bands of Hunkpapa and Blackfeet of the Lakota Nation, and Hunkpatinas and Cuthead bands of the Yanktonais of The Dakota Nation. The Lakota Nation or Great Sioux Nation includes Oglala, Burle, Minnecoujou, Hunkpapa, Blackfeet, Without Bows and Two Kettle. The Lakotas speak an 'L' dialect of Siouan language and were horsemen and buffalo hunters on the plains. The Yankton and Yanktonias are called the Middle Sioux. The Cuthead band belongs to the Upper Yanktonais and the Hunkatina are the Lower Yanktonais both live on Standing Rock. The Yanktonias speak the 'D' dialect of Siouan language. The Yanktonais were a river-plains people who did some farming as well as buffalo hunting.

The government put all the Tribes with similar languages into the Sioux people. The oral tradition of our people states that the Lakota and Dakota people were one nation. The Lakota people broke away and formed their own nation. The Lakota/Dakota people still practice their sacred and traditional ceremonies which encompass the seven rites of Lakota Nation brought by the White Buffalo Calf Woman.

Social activities such as powwow, rodeos, and races are celebrated in the summer months. Special powwows held for individuals who accomplished a stage in their lives such as graduation or acceptance in the armed forces with traditional honoring ceremonies, give away, and feasts to celebrate the accomplishments. The oral tradition is still passed down from the elders to the youth.

The future of our people is in the hands of our children. The children of the Great Sioux Nation will bring us into the 21st century with pride.


The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is part of the Great Sioux Nation with the Hunkpapa and Blackfeet bands. The Great Sioux Nation retains land base in accordance with the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. The Great Sioux Nation extended from the Big Horn Mountains in the west to the east side of Missouri River. The Heart River is the North boundary and the Platte River in the southern boundary. The Great Sioux Nation was reduced in the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty to the east side of the Missouri River and the state line of South Dakota in the west.

The Black Hills are located in the center the Great Sioux Nation. The Black Hills are sacred to the Lakota/ Dakota people and today considered an important part of our spiritual lives. A direct violation of the 1868 Treaty was committed in 1874 by General George A. Custer and his 7th Cavalry. The 7th Cavalry entered the Black Hills, the center of the Great Sioux Nation and found gold in the Black Hills. The Gold Rush started the conflict between the United States and Great Sioux Nation. The Great Sioux Nation oppose this violation of the treaty. The United States Government wanted to buy or rent the Black Hills from the Lakota people. The Great Sioux Nation refused to sell or rent their sacred lands.

Sitting Bull was a spiritual leader of the Hunkpapa band. Sitting Bull fought to preserve the Lakota way of life. He refused to sell any part of the sacred land and move to the reservation. Sitting Bull had a dream of a great victory over the cavalry soldiers the summer of 1876. The 7th Cavalry under General George A. Custer was requested to bring the Sioux bands in and place them on the reservation lands. On June 15, 1876, the Battle of the Little Big Horn between the 7th Cavalry and Lakota Nation with their allies Cheyenne and Arapahoes at Greasy Grass, Montana took place. The Sioux Nation won a victory over General George A. Custer and his 7th Cavalry.

The Great Sioux Nation scattered, some to Canada and others surrendered to the reservations. The United States Government demanded that the Lakota nation move to the reservations. The people finally surrendered after being cold and hungry and moved on the reservations. The government still insisted buying the Black Hills from the Lakota people. The Sioux (Lakota) Nation refused to sell their sacred lands. The United States Government introduced the Starve or Sell Bill or the Agreement of 1877, which illegally took the Black Hills from the Great Sioux Nation. The Lakota people starved but refused to sell their sacred land. The Agreement of 1877 also allotted Indian lands into 160 acre lots to individuals to divide the nation.

The Act of 1889 broke up the Great Sioux Nation into smaller reservations of which two million acres formed the Standing Rock Reservation: the Yanktonais and Cuthead on the North Dakota side and the Hunkpapas and Blackfeet on the South Dakota side of the reservations. Sitting Bull objected to the reduction of the land and fought to preserve their way of life. Major James McLaughlin, Indian Agent for the Standing Rock Reservation, ordered the arrest of Sitting Bull for participating in the Ghost Dance. In the process of the arrest Sitting Bull was shot by Indian Police on December 15, 1890.

The Hunkpapa who lived in Sitting Bull's camp and relatives fled to the south. They joined Big Foot Band in Cherry Creek, South Dakota then traveled to the Pine Ridge reservation to meet with Chief Red Cloud. The 7th Cavalry caught them at a place called Wounded Knee on December 29, 1890. The 7th Cavalry took all the weapons from the Lakota people. The 7th Cavalry massacred 300 people at Wounded Knee and left the bodies to freeze in the snow. The people of the Great Sioux Nation slowly recovered from this injustice and continued to survive in their homeland.