Dakota Indians is a collective term used for a group of Native Americans. Contrary to the common assumption, the Dakota Indians did not live exclusively in the Dakotas (North and South Dakota). Instead, they also inhabited Wisconsin and Minnesota regions of the U.S. Currently the Dakota Indians are spread throughout North America, including Iowa, Nebraska, Montana, Illinois, North Dakota and South Dakota. The Dakota tribe is divided into seven tribal groups, which include Sisseton, Mdewakanton, Wahpeton, Teton, Wahpekute, Yankton and Yanktonai Sioux. The Dakota Indians are a part of a larger group, the Sioux Indians, which originated in the Lake region. Dakota is one of the names used for the natives, and some Sioux tribes preferentially describe themselves as Lakota or Nakota, but all these three expressions indicate only minor differences in dialect. Out of all of them, Dakota is the more popular term. In addition to Lakota and Dakota, Sioux also speak English.
1. Little Crow
Thaoyate Duta, or Little Crow, was born in 1810, in Caposia, the current South St. Paul, Minnesota and died on July 3, 1863 in Minnesota. His name was derived from his father’s name, which meant Hawk that Chases. He was a famous chief of the Mdewakanton Dakota people. He is best known for negotiating the1851 Treaties of Traverse des Sioux and Mendota. According to the treaty, he agreed upon moving his band to the reservation near the Minnesota River in exchange for food and a few other things. His opponents, however, did not keep the promise and he was consequently constrained to support the Dakota War Council’s decision to expel the whites. He participated in the Dakota War of 1862, but retreated before the end of war. On July 3, 1863, a settler killed him to collect a bounty for killing Dakota Indians in Minnesota.
Wa-na-ta, meaning the Charger, was a Dakota Indian chief of the Yanktonai Dakota tribe. He was born in 1795.The tribe was located in the vicinity of the Saint Peter River, the present Minnesota River. The tribe comprised of 6,000 individuals of whom 1,300 were the warriors. At the age of 18 years, he fought alongside his father Red Thunder, in the War of 1812 against the Americans. The British Colonel Robert Dickson recruited him and urged him to charge Fort Sandusky. He was wounded during the attack, but earned the name Charger.
Inkpaduta, meaning Scarlet Point, was born in the Dakota Territory near the end of the 18th century. He contracted small pox in early childhood and his face was badly scarred. He was the chief of the Dakota Wahpekute band. In 1852, a drunken white wine trader killed the chief, who was his brother. He succeeded him as the chief of the tribe and named the murderer for justice, which was not only denied but to add insult to injury, his brother’s head was nailed on the house of the local prosecutor. To retaliate, he killed 30 white men in a series of attacks known by the white men as the Spirit Laker Massacre.
4. Sitting Bull
Sitting Bull, nicknamed Slonhe or Slow, belonged to Hunkpapa Lakota tribe. He was born in 1831, in Grand River, South Dakota and died on December 15, 1890 in Grand River, South Dakota, Standing Rock Indian Reservation. During the resistance to the U.S. government, he was the tribal chief and considered the holy man of the tribe. He is best known for his resistance to USA during the Battle of Little Big Horn. He started fighting in wars at the age of 14 and was known for his bravery. He came to terms with the U.S. government, he but in the mid-1870s gold rush, white people intruded into the Sioux lands. They were alarmed and offered resistance. The U.S. government was afraid of his joining the anti-American Ghost Dance movement, and therefore issued orders of his arrest. The Indian Agency police killed him while trying to arrest him near Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
5. Crazy Horse
Crazy Horse, with his Native American name Tashunka Witco, was born in 1842, in Rapid City, South Dakota and died on September 5, 1877 in Fort Robinson, Nebraska. While he was a young boy, he saw the Grattan Massacre and developed distrust for the white men. He was an Ogalala Sioux Indian chief and was best known for fighting against the elimination of an Indian reservation in Black Hills. He was a brave Lakota leader and was committed to the protection to the lives, property and culture of his people. In 1876, he joined Cheyenne forces to attack General George Crook and later on stood with the chief Sitting Bull to fight the Battle of Little Big Horn. He surrendered in 1877 but was killed prior his arrest.
6. Red Cloud
Mapiya Luta, or Red Cloud, was born in 1822, in Nebraska and died on December 10, 1909 in Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota. He was an accomplished Native leader and chief of Oglala Lakota. His period of chieftaincy lies between 1868 and 1909. He resisted the U.S. developments in Montana territory like the development of Bozeman trail and the construction of road through Wyoming. He is best known as a successful opponent of the U.S. Army and led the Red Cloud War to successfully gain control of the Powder River Country. In 1868, he signed the Treaty of Fort Laramie and provided the transition opportunity for his people to reservation life.
7. Old Chief Smoke
Sota or Smoke, better known as Old Chief Smoke, was born to Body Parts and Looking Walker in October 1774 and died in September 1864 at the age of 89 years. As a young man, he was famous for his mastery at horse capturing. After the death of Stone Knife in 1797, he was elected as the chief of the most prominent tribe, Teton. He had five wives and many of his children became tribal chiefs. He presented his war shirt to Col. William O. Collins at the time of his visit in 1864. Col. Collins donated the shirt to the Smithsonian Institution in 1866, where it is on display still.
8. Chief Tamaha
Chief Tamaha, also known as Chief Standing Moose, was born in 1776 near Winona, Minnesota and died at Fort Pierre S.D. in 1864. He was an Mdewakanton Sioux and was sometimes also known as the One Eyed Sioux, as he had lost one eye in his early childhood. He was a friend of the U.S. Army Lt. Zebulon M. Pike and was known as the U.S. Supporter. He was arrested by the British, but he kept his loyalty to the Americans, therefore was awarded the Peace Medal and Loyalty papers. He used to charge people for showing these papers. He was a successful diplomat and orator. Before the Dakota War of 1862, he tried to convince the chief Little Crow not to fight against the U.S. Army.
Ishtakhaba, meaning sleepy eye, was a Native American chief of Sisseton Sioux tribe. His chieftaincy started in 1822 and continued until his death in 1860. His band was known as the Swan Lake or Little Rock Band, which used to hunt in Southern Minnesota and Southeastern Dakota. He signed four treaties with the U.S. and met the U.S. President James Monroe in Washington D.C in 1824. Explorers, missionaries, traders and government officials found him very cooperative and friendly. He died in Robert County, South Dakota, but his remains were relocated to Sleepy Eye Minnesota, where a monument has been erected in his remembrance.
10. War Eagle
WanbdÃƒ OkÃƒchize, or War Eagle, was born in 1785 in Minnesota. During the War of 1812, he worked for the U.S. Army and conveyed its messages to the tribesmen to incite them against the British. He also worked as the Mississippi River Guide and as messenger for the American Fur Company in Missouri. He was elected the chief of the tribe in 1830s and traveled to Washington D.C. to negotiate peace treaties. He was awarded the Peace Medal by the President Martin Van Buren. He died in 1851 was buried on top of the high bluff, where a memorial was built in his honor.
In the past, the Dakota Indians lived in teepees made of buffalo hides. These tents could be easily erected and dismantled when required. Other than hunting, the Dakota Indians relied on buffalo for food and shelter. Most of them, however, enjoy the modern lifestyle in modern days. Dakota means friend, and the bravery of the Dakota Indians had been undeniable. Dakota is also used as a name, both for boys and girls. Between 1995 and 2000, it had been in the list of the top hundred most popular names. Living nations give great importance to their past, therefore the Indian Dakotas find a very respectable place among the Americans.