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Understanding Indigenous Culture in ND Series



The people of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe are members of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota (meaning “friends” or “allies”) nations. Just as nations today face dispute and conflict, the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota nations conflicted with the Ojibwe people over necessary resources. As a result of this conflict, the Ojibwe called the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota “Nadouwesou,” meaning “adders,” but which translates to “snake.” This descriptive term, shortened and corrupted by French traders, resulted in the retention of just the last syllable - “Sioux.” Therefore, to many, using the name “Sioux” is considered disrespectful.

  • The Dakota people of Standing Rock include the Upper Yanktonai in their language, called Ihanktonwana, which translates as “Little End Village,” and Lower Yanktonai, called Hunkpatina in their language, or “Campers at the Horn” or “End of the Camping Circle.”

  • The Lakota people subdivided into the Oceti Sakowin, or “Seven Council Fires.” The Lakota people of Standing Rock include two of these subdivisions, the Hunkpapa which means “Campers at the Horn,” and the Sihasapa, or “Blackfeet.”

Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake, which translates to “Buffalo Bull Who Sits Down,” was a Hunkpapa

Lakota legendary leader, a holy man, a medicine man and chief known as Sitting Bull

(1831-1890). Throughout most of his life, Sitting Bull, who was named “Jumping Badger”

at birth, strongly protested any seizing or ceding of Indian lands and opposed the

confinement of those lands to reservations. Sitting Bull was revered by the first peoples

and many others alike for his generosity and his concern for his people.


The reservation land of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe can be found along the western edge of the Missouri River with areas in both North and South Dakota. Standing Rock reservation is one of the most untouched and beautiful environmental spaces, a place where many of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota live, work, and raise their families while respecting their natural way of life. It's home to Sitting Bull College, the Immersion Nest (Lakȟól’iyapi Wahóȟpi), an early childhood, Lakota-immersion program for 3-year olds, Sitting Bull College Visitors Center, Community Development Center, and the National Native American Scenic Byway.




Values are critical to the way of life for the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota peoples. Values such as generosity, courage, patience, compassion, humility, caring, and respect are especially important to the Standing Rock people and are certainly cross-cultural, or shared by many other cultures, instilled from generation to generation. Click here to view a video to listen and learn more about these values.




Discuss the shared values of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people with other families, cultures, and nations. Review and share Oceti Sakowin: The People of the Seven Council Fires” with your classrooms.



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