What is the Sioux Tribe?

Kevin P. Hanson
Kevin P. Hanson
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The Sioux tribe is a large tribe of Native American Indians. They have been known by several different names over the years, including the Lakota tribe and the Dakota tribe. Some anthropologists and historians suggest that the original name of the Sioux tribe is a derivative of the name the Algonquian American Indian tribe gave them: Nadowessioux.

The French are said to have been the first Europeans to encounter members of the Sioux tribe in approximately 1640. The majority of them were residing in the region of the modern-day American states of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. It has since been discovered that members of the Sioux tribe occupied a vast expanse of the North American landscape. The Sioux, Lakota and Dakota American Indian nations lived in an area that extended from the Arkansas River in the southern United States to Lake Winnipeg in the north and the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains in the west.

The Sioux tribe has primarily been divided into four groups. The Winnebagoes populated the region surrounding Lake Michigan. The Assiniboines covered the northern parts of the US. The Minnetaree faction lived mainly in current-day Minnesota. The fourth group were the Southern Sioux, who occupied the south and west regions between the Arkansas and Platte rivers and hunted in the Rocky Mountains.

It was in 1837 that the Sioux tribe surrendered all their lands east of the Mississippi to the US. Then, in 1851, they relinquished approximately 35 million acres (14 million hecatares) of their land west of the Mississippi River for $3 million US Dollars (USD). After the Sioux tribe agreed to this sale of land and the provisions set forth in the treaties related to it, the US government allegedly neglected to fully carry out all these treaties’ requirements. This reportedly brought about feelings of resentment in the Sioux tribe, and a string of attacks by some members of the Native American tribe followed. In 1855, a new peace treaty was established.

The US and the Sioux tribe fought one final major armed battle that came to be known as the Battle at Wounded Knee Creek. US General Nelson A. Miles in a letter to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs referred to the battle a "massacre." On 29 December 1890, approximately 500 troops with the US's 7th Cavalry surrounded a Sioux tribe camp, and when it was over, more than 150 Lakota Sioux lay dead.

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Discussion Comments


I think the Sioux tribe are descendants of Asian peoples. They look Asian in appearance. I especially like their hair, very dark and straight. And the Sioux have a very strong community bond. They're not individualistic like most European cultures. Community and family comes first, which is more prevalent in Asian cultures.


@burcinc-- I'm no expert on the Sioux tribe. The Sioux are usually described as courageous and also very spiritual people but I think these characteristics describe all Native American tribes. They had a nomadic culture and used buffaloes for food and dress in the past. They had a governance system with chiefs that held both military and religious significance. The chiefs of the different tribes that make up the Sioux would meet periodically to make decisions. And councils were held to talk about and decide on community matters. Spirituality is and was also very important for this tribe and religious ceremonies and dance ceremonies are held.


I recently found out that one of my great grand-parents was a Sioux Native American. I've become interested in the tribe and would like to learn more about them. Unfortunately, my parents are not of much help. Does anyone here know about Sioux tribe culture?

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