- Access Genealogy - https://www.accessgenealogy.com -

Dakota Indian Divisions

Discover your
family's story.

Enter a grandparent's name to get started.

choose a state:
Start Now

Early explorers usually distinguished the Dakota Indians into an Eastern or Forest and a Western or prairie division. A more complete and accurate classification, one which is also recognized by the people themselves, is the following:

  1. Mdewakanton
  2. Wahpeton
  3. Wahpekute
  4. Sisseton
  5. Yankton
  6. Yanktonai
  7. Teton

Each of these are again subdivided into bands and subbands. These seven main divisions are often known as “the seven council fires.” The first four named together constitute the Isanyati, Santee, or eastern division, of which the Mdewakanton appear to be the original nucleus, and speak one dialect. Their home was in Minnesota prior to the outbreak of 1862. The Yankton and Yanktonai, the latter subdivided into (a) Upper and (b) Hunkpatina or Lower, held the middle territory between Lake Traverse and Missouri river in east Dakota, and together spoke one dialect, from which the Assiniboin was an offshoot. The great Teton division, with its subdivisions, Upper and Lower Brulé, Oglala, Sans Arcs, Sihasapa or Blackfoot, Miniconjou, Oohenonpa or Two Kettle, Hunkpapa, etc., and comprising together more than half the nation, held the whole tribal territory west of the Missouri and spoke one dialect.

Dakota Bands

The following are names of divisions, groups, or bands that are spoken of as pertaining to the Dakota Indians. Some of these have not been identified; others are mere temporary geographical or local bands: