The Great Plains Indians

The Great Plains is an area of grassland that stretches more than 2,000 miles from Cananda to south Texas. 

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The plains that we now know in America use to be home to over twenty Native American tribes long before Columbus ever crossed the seas.  The Crow. The Sioux. The Apache.  These are names that we have heard when people talk about our countries native people.  Too often the stories that we hear about these Indian tribes are the ones that involve their encounters with the first white settlers.  What about the tribes before the white settlers?  This site takes focus on the Sioux Indians of the great plains.  Get to know the tribe as they existed, as a family, as warriors, and prideful people. 
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The Sioux Indians 

      Today, many Sioux Indians live like most Americans and others live on resevations.  In the past, they lived much differently.  The Sioux Indians lived in the area of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.  The Sioux Nation is very large.  Seven individual tribes make up the Sioux Nation.  These tribes are the Mdewakanton, Sisseton, Teton, Wahpekute, Wahpeton, Yankton, and Yanktonai.  The name Sioux means snake or enemy. 


 Early Sioux

     The Sioux moved west several decades before Europeans arrived.  When they moved they gave up many luxuries such as farming.  This caused the Sioux to become nomadic hunters.  It is not known why the Sioux moved from the east, many experts believe that another large tribe may have forced them to move.  The Sioux became very skilled at hunting buffalo.  Many buffalo live on the great plains until the early 1800’s.  The Sioux used every part of the Buffalo to live.  The lived in tepees which were made of buffalo skins.  They used tepees because they could be moved and taken down easily.  Not all Indian tribes lived in tepees.  Buffalo was also used as the Sioux’s main food and clothing source as well. 

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Sioux Clothing, Language, and Ceremonies

     The Sioux clothing was made from Baffalo as stated, they wore leggings, shirts, dresses, and vests.  They also wore moccasins and gloves.  The Sioux also wore feathered headdresses during special ceremonies.  The Sioux language is part of the Siouian language family.   The Sioux have a traditional religion called the Sacred Pipe religion.  Each tribe has a sacred pipe that is used at Sacred Pipe ceremonies.  Today, many Sioux follow the Christian religion while other practive both the Sacred Pipe and Christian religion.  Sioux hold powwows.  A powwow is a gathering. 

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Sioux Family

Children are very important to the Sioux.  In the past many Sioux parents held ceremonies for their newborn babies.  At the ceremonies the respected elder of the tribe breathed into a newborn baby’s mouth.  This was suppose to pass on some of the elder’s goodness to the child.  The Sioux men taught young boys to hunt.  Sioux women taught girls to make clothing and prepare food. 

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The Battle of the Little Big Horn

In 1876, the Sioux fought to keep thier land.  They fought U.S. Army Colonel George Custer, who had ordered his troops to attack.  A man named Crazy Horse led the Sioux in this battle.  In 1890, the U.S. Army and the Sioux fought again.  This is known as the Battle of Wounded Knee.  It is sometimes called the Wounded Knee Massacre.  No one is sure how the battle started.  The army started firing at the Sioux and this time many Sioux died. 


 Other Sioux Info:

Sitting Bull

Red Cloud

Sioux Info

Sioux Info for Kids


 Great Plains Indians Links:

Plains Indians

Kid Friendly Info

National Park Site


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