Last Updated – March 17, 2016
Based upon my research and personal experience, these are definitions related to the Dakota Indians and European Americans. I have seen many variations. Spellings and definitions keep changing. I rely mainly on Riggs’ Dakota English Dictionary for the correct Dakota spellings and definitions. I use the year 1862 only as a historic reference point for words whose meanings have changed over the years.
American Indian – According to Merriam-Webster, Any member of the various aboriginal peoples of the Western Hemisphere, with the exception of the Eskimos (Inuit) and the Aleuts. Synonyms: Indian, Indigenous Person, Native American.
Anglo-Dakota – A person who is part white (not Hispanic) and part Dakota.
Band – One of the following: Mdewakanton, Wahpekute, Sisseton, Wahpeton, Yankton, Yanktonai or Teton. Synonym: Council Fire.
Bdewakanton – Bdewakanton is the Sisseton/Wahpeton word for Mdewakanton.
Bdewakantunwan – Bdewakantunwan is the Sisseton/Wahpeton word for Mdewakantunwan.
Bdote – Bdote is the Sisseton/Wahpeton word for Mdote.
Blanket Dakota – See Tradition Dakota. Today, this term has become offensive to some people.
Brave – In 1862, a Dakota man; usually a hunter or soldier. Today, its use has become offensive to some people. See Soldier.
Council Fire – One of the seven bands of the Oceti Sakowin. Synonym: Band.
Cut-hairs – In 1862, Dakota who chose to become farmers under the US program were required to cut their hair. See Farmer Indians.
Dakota – “Friends or Allies.” In 1862, the Dakota Nation included the same bands as the Sioux Nation. Today, many people use Dakota to include only the Mdewakanton, Wahpekute, Sisseton and Wahpeton Bands. A dialect where D is used as D.
Dakota Conflict and Dakota Uprising – See Dakota War of 1862.
Dakota Nation or Dakota Tribe – Synonyms: Sioux Nation, Sioux Tribe, Oceti Sakowin.
Dakota War of 1862 – In 1862, a faction of the Dakota Indians went to war with the US. I prefer this term.
Euro-Americans – Americans who have a European heritage.
Farmer Dakota – See Farmer Indians.
Farmer Indians – In 1862, Dakota Indians who chose to become farmers. Synonyms: Farm Dakota, Farmer Dakota, Cut-Hairs.
First Nation – Designation given in Canada to Native American communities.
Franco-Americans – Americans who have a French heritage.
Franco-Dakota – Persons who are part Dakota and part French.
Friendly Dakota – Dakota who remained loyal to the US during the Dakota War of 1862.
Half-breed – In 1862, a person who was part Dakota and part white; today, this term has become derogatory to some people; see Mixed-Blood.
Hostile Dakota – Dakota who willingly went to war against the US in the Dakota War of 1862.
Ihanktunwan – See Yankton.
Ihanktunwanna – See Yanktonai.
Indian – See American Indian.
Indigenous Person – See American Indian.
Lakota – The Teton; a dialect where L in place of D.
Lower Sioux – In 1862, these were the Mdewakanton and Wahpekute Bands.
Mdewakanton – English spelling of the Dakota word Mdewakantunwan, which means “Spirit Lake People.” One of the seven bands of the Sioux Nation.
Mdewakantunwan – See Mdewakanton.
Mdote – According to Riggs, Dakota-English Dictionary: “the mouth or junction of one river with another (a name commonly applied to the country about Fort Snelling, or mouth of the Saint Peters [Minnesota River]…written Mendota.”
Mendota – See Mdote.
Metis – In 1862, this term referred to the white and Indian mixed-bloods in the Pembina area; today, according to Merriam-Webster, Metis is “a person of mixed blood; especially often capitalized; the offspring of an American Indian and a person of European ancestry.” See Mixed-Blood.
Minnesota – The state of Minnesota takes it name from the Dakota word Minisota; the Minnesota River. Riggs, A Dakota-English Dictionary defines mini as “water” and sota as “clear, but not perfectly so; slightly clouded, but not turbid; of a milky whitish appearance; sky-colored.” Today, some claim that Minnesota represents a reflection of the sky or clouds. This is incorrect. The definition of Minnesota is based on content of its water not the reflection of its water.
Mixed-blood – In 1862, a mixed-blood was a person of Dakota and white ancestry. I prefer use of this term, while some people may consider it offensive. Others prefer Metis.
Nakota – Subgroup of the Sioux Nation based on dialect. Consists of the Yankton and Yanktonais Bands, which use N for D.
Nation – See Tribe.
Native – Shortened form of Native American.
Native American – See American Indian.
Oceti Sakowin – A Dakota term meaning “Seven Council Fires.” Synonyms: Dakota Nation, Sioux Nation, Dakota Tribe, Sioux Tribe.
Oyate – Dakota word for “People.”
Reconciliation – Merriam-Webster defines reconciliation as, “the act of causing two people or groups to become friendly again after an argument or disagreement.” Before reconciliation can occur, we must have conciliation. Reconciliation has a wide range of meanings to various persons. Before we use this word, we must define it.
Santee – In 1862, the Santee included the Mdewakanton, Wahpekute, Sisseton and Wahpeton Bands. The Santee Reservation was established in Nebraska in 1866. The Santee became those who located there. They were mostly Mdewakanton and Wahpekute.
Settlers – People, mostly whites, who settled on lands ceded by the Dakota Indians to the US.
Sioux – Sioux was an English word derived from another tribe’s name for the Dakota Indians. Today, some people define Sioux as a snake or serpent and consider it to be derogatory. Sioux also means enemy. In 1862, Sioux was synonymous with Dakota. Today, Sioux may be the only English word that refers to the Mdewakanton, Wahpekute, Sisseton, Wahpeton, Yankton, Yanktonai and Teton Bands.
Sioux Massacre, Sioux Outbreak, Sioux Uprising – See Dakota War of 1862.
Sioux Nation – Consists of the following bands: Mdewakanton, Wahpekute, Sisseton, Wahpeton, Yankton Yanktonai and Teton. Synonyms: Oceti Sakowin, Sioux Tribe, Dakota Nation, and Dakota Tribe.
Sioux Tribe – See Sioux Nation.
Sisitunwan – See Sisseton.
Sisseton – English spelling of the Dakota word Sisitunwan, which means “People of the Swamps.” One of the seven bands of the Sioux Nation.
Squaw – In 1862, a Dakota woman was a squaw. Today, its usage has become derogatory to many people.
Soldier – Today, this term is preferred over Warrior and Brave. When using this term, it is best to define the group as Dakota soldiers or US soldiers.
Tepee – See tipi.
Teton – English spelling of the Dakota word Titunwan, which means “People living on and beyond the Missouri.” One of the seven bands of the Sioux Nation.
Tipi – Preferred spelling
Titunwan – See Teton.
Traditional Dakota – In 1862, the Dakota Indians who chose to maintain their traditional live-style and not convert to farming or Christianity.
Tribe – A group of Indians having similar culture and language; synonym: Nation
U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 – See Dakota War of 1862.
Upper Sioux – In 1862, these were the Sisseton and Wahpeton Bands.
Village – In 1862, there were about 35 Mdewakanton, Wahpekute, Sisseton and Wahpeton villages. Each village had a village chief or leader.
Wahpeton – English spelling of the Dakota word Wahpetunwan, which means “People of the Leaf.” One of the seven bands of the Sioux Nation.
Wahpetunwan – See Wahpeton.
Wahpekute – “Leaf Shooters.” One of the seven bands of the Sioux Nation. The Dakota spelling is the same as the English spelling.
Warrior – In 1862, warrior was a Dakota soldier. Today, its usage has become offensive to some people. See Soldier.
White – A person of European descent.
Yankton – English spelling of the Dakota word Ihanktunwan, which means “People of the Further End.” One of the seven bands of the Sioux Nation.
Yanktonai – English spelling of the Dakota word Ihanktunwanna, which means “Lesser People of the Further End.” One of the seven bands of the Sioux Nation.