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Sioux Indians

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Sioux Indians
The Sioux Indians first came to North America from Asia. Sioux means, “little snake” and was given to the tribe by the Chippewa Indians. The Sioux Indians were nomadic, meaning they didn’t stay in a particular place for very long. They would follow the pattern of the buffalo, and hunt them for food and clothing. The Sioux Indians migrated from Minnesota to the South Dakota area in the 1700’s. For more than 160 years, the Sioux Indians had a great deal of land in the plains to support the bison herds, during the time there were over 60 million bison in the Great Plains, and the Sioux Indians held a massive piece of land in the plains to support the bison herds which they hunted on these lands. In those times, there were over 60 million bison on the Great Plains and the Sioux Indians reigned over 80 million acres of land on the plains.
The tribe had chiefs that were in charge of various parts of organizational aspects of the tribe, to include war, civil rules, and of course, medicine men. The Lakota tribes were divided into family groups called tiyospaye. These family groups had the responsibility for hunting bison, and processing the meat, hide and bones. They also built what were called earthen loges for the winters, and bison hide tipis for the summer hunting season.
Because they had no written language, their heritage was entrusted to storytellers and drawings on bison hides. A single hide may represent up to over 50 years of Lakota history.
The Sioux Tribe is one of the oldest tribal groups today and their geographical boundaries stretch from the Dakotas. The discovery of the Sioux tribe in 1640 by the French explores along the Mississippi River. The French eventually forced the Sioux away from the buffalo plains for which the French proclaimed that section of territory. The Sioux Tribe migrated to other parts of the country like Minnesota, Montana, and Canada were they have established a reservation in Manitoba and Alberta. The tribe was estimated to be around 20,000 strong and they sided with the British to rid the land of American settlers.
For people of the Sioux nation religion is a way of life. Tribal members still believe everything exists as one with the Great Spirit. In order to connect with this spirituality, they continue to engage in various religious ceremonial practices, even those abolished decades ago.
The Sioux's spiritual worldview consists of animism, polytheism and shamanism. For them, nature is sacred. Everything exists within Wakan Tanka, "The Great Spirit," that holds power over everything that has and still exists. Wakan Tanka is life itself and manifests in the sun, moon, stars, and earth, and everything lives in the shelter of the "world tree." These trees are described as "one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father."
Sioux tribes engage in various ceremonies to maintain a connection to the Great Spirit. They take part in sweat lodges, vision quests and the sacred pipe ceremony. Before important rituals, tribal members cleanse their bodies and spirits in the sweat lodge with the four basic elements of the earth. Vision quests begin at puberty. Males, and sometimes females, seek out solitary places where they fast for days in order to open their minds to the Great Spirit. Finally, the Sioux smoke the sacred pipe, the smoke of which carries their prayers and good thoughts to the celestial beings for every important occasion in life, especially important ceremonies. he Sun Dance and Ghost Dance, the most important and controversial ceremonies of the Sioux ,once incited fear. The most religious of ceremonies, The Sun Dance, was a self-sacrifice ritual that included dancing, drums, praying and self-inflicted lacerations. These lacerations connected the individual to the world tree during prayer; when the piercing stripped the flesh, the warrior offered it as a sacrifice for family and community improvement. The purpose of the Ghost Dance was originally to bring peace with the white settlers, but the Sioux altered the ceremony to create a cleansing ritual: one that would rid the evil whites from Sioux land. Although once abolished, the Sioux still practice the Sun Dance, while the Ghost Dance is also practiced privately today.
The Sioux tribe is made up of seven large tribes which consists of a village council, tribal council and seven fires council. In the village council this a council that each village had who was responsible for electing a chief that would then delegate authority for life. He would rotate delegation every year to different groups. The tribal council did the same as the village council. The seven fires council was main governing group in charge of the whole governing body of the Sioux nation as a whole. Now today the Sioux Indians reside on a reservation. They still practice some of the laws that they are accustom to accept instead of them having a chief, they have a council chairperson that makes the decisions for the whole tribe. It is also an interesting fact that women had no place in the law making decisions. All law-making decisions were made by men.
In the beginning the Sioux Tribe worked well with the new colonist trading buffalo hides with the colonist for knives, axes and guns. This was the main contribution that the Sioux did for European Colonist. They taught the colonist how to hunt the buffalo. As well as how to make the clothes out of the buffalo skin for the harsh winters.
The Sioux let the colonist move into their lands at first, because in the Sioux eyes they were sharing the lands. The colonist on the other hand, wanted to keep the land for themselves. This created issues and lead to the war between the Sioux and the colonist.

References Eleanor McKenzie: Religious Beliefs and Ceremonies of the Sioux Tribe
http://nativeamericans.mrdonn.org/plains/sioux/government.html

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