The Sioux or Dakota Indians were 20,000 strong in 7 different tribes, throughout the Great Plains. Free nomads of the Plains, they took full advantage of available horses, which were originally brought here by Cortez and the Spanish in 1519. The horse allowed them the mobility to pull their tepees as they traveled and were an invaluable aid in hunting buffalo, their main staple. While the Sioux were known to be great warriors, the family was considered to be the key unit of Sioux life. Children, called “Wakanisha” (Waka meaning sacredness) were of primary importance to the Sioux family and were therefore the center of attention. While Monogamy was the norm, Indian men had the ability to take on more than one wife. The roles of men and women were clearly defined. The men were expected to defend and provide for the family by hunting and making war. The women were the matriarchs, ruling the family life and the domestic life of the tepee. When a man married a Sioux women it was expected he would move into her home. The Sioux were a deeply spiritually people, who communed with the spirit world through music and dance. The Sun Dance was considered one of the most religious ceremonies of the Sioux. This 12 day summer ritual of self sacrifice, was a testimony to individual courage and endurance in serving the Great Spirit. As a shared experience among young men, The Sun Dance also instilled a sense of tribal unity. By dancing and enduring the pain of self-inflicted rules, each participant reasserted his identity as an Indian warrior.
One of the most famous Sioux Indians of all time was Sitting Bull.1831-1890. Born in Grand River, South Dakota, He was known for the battle of Little Big Horn.