Collection: The Siouan Indians

Siouan Tribal Nomenclature

In the Siouan stock, as among the American Indians generally, the accepted appellations for tribes and other groups are variously derived. Many of the Siouan tribal names were, like the name of the stock, given by alien peoples, including white men, though most are founded on the descriptive or other designations used in the groups to which they pertain. At first glance, the names seem to be loosely applied and perhaps vaguely defined, and this laxity in application and definition does not disappear, but rather increases, with closer examination. There are special reasons for the indefiniteness of Indian nomenclature: The


Linguistically the Winnebago Indians are closely related to the ŧΩiwe’re on the one side and to the Mandan on the other. They were first mentioned in the Jesuit Relation of 1636, though the earliest known use of the name Winnebago occurs in the Relation of 1640; Nicollet found them on Green bay in 1639. According to Shea, the Winnebago were almost annihilated by the Illinois (Algonquian) tribe in early days, and the historical group was made up of the survivors of the early battles. Chauvignerie placed the Winnebago on Lake Superior in 1736, and Jefferys referred to them and the

Chiwere Group

Ɉɔiwe’re is used in the following article to reference the Chiwere of the Handbook of American Indians. The ancestry and prehistoric movements of the tribes constituting the Ɉɔiwe’re group are involved in considerable obscurity, though it is known from tradition as well as linguistic affinity that they sprung from the Winnebago. Since the days of Marquette (1673) the Iowa have ranged over the country between the Mississippi and Missouri, up to the latitude of Oneota (formerly upper Iowa) River, and even across the Missouri about the mouth of the Platte. Chauvignerie located them in 1736 west of the Mississippi and (probably

Siouan Principal Divisions

According to Dorsey, whose acquaintance with the Siouan Indians was especially close, the main portion of the Siouan stock, occupying the continental interior, comprised seven principal divisions (including the Biloxi and not distinguishing the Asiniboin), each composed of one or more tribes or confederacies, all defined and classified by linguistic, social, and mythologic relations; and he and Mooney recognize several additional groups, denned by linguistic affinity or historical evidence of intimate relations, in the eastern part of the country. So far as made out through the latest researches, the grand divisions, confederacies, and tribes of the stock, 1The subdivisions are

The Siouan Mythology

It was partly through pioneer study of the Siouan Indians that the popular fallacy concerning the aboriginal “Great Spirit” gained currency; and it was partly through the work of Dorsey among the ȼegiha and Dakota tribes, first as a missionary and afterward as a linguist, that the early error was corrected. Among these tribes the creation and control of the world and the things thereof are ascribed to “wa-kan-da” (the term varying somewhat from tribe to tribe), just as among the Algonquian tribes omnipotence was assigned to “ma-ni-do” (“Manito the Mighty” of “Hiawatha”); yet inquiry shows that wakanda assumes various

Siouan Somatology

Certain somatic features of the Siouan Indians, past and present, may be traced to their causes in custom and exercise of function; yet by far the greater number of the features are common to the American people or to all mankind, and are of ill-understood significance.

Siouan Institutions

Among civilized peoples, institutions are crystallized in statutes about nuclei of common law or custom; among peoples in the prescriptorial culture-stage statutes are unborn, and various mnemonic devices are employed for fixing and perpetuating institutions; and, as is usual in this stage, the devices involve associations which appear to be essentially arbitrary at the outset, though they tend to become natural through the survival of the fittest. A favorite device for perpetuating institutions among the primitive peoples of many districts on different continents is the taboo, or prohibition, which is commonly fiducial but is often of general application. This device


The Mandan had a vague tradition of emigration from the eastern part of the country, and Lewis and Clark, Prince Maximilian, and others found traces of Mandan house-structures at various points along the Missouri; thus they appear to have ascended that stream before the advent of the ȼegiha. During the historical period their movements were limited; they were first visited in the upper Missouri country by Sieur de la Verendrye in 1738. About 1750 they established two villages on the eastern side and seven on the western side of the Missouri, near the mouth of Heart river. Here they were

Siouan Organization

The demotic organization of the Siouan peoples, so far as known, is set forth in considerable detail in Mr Dorsey’s treatises 1Chiefly “Omaha Sociology,” Third Ann. Rep. Bur. Eth., for 1881-82 (1884), pp. 205-370; “A study of Siouan cults,” Eleventh Ann. Rep. Bur. Eth., for 1889-90 (1894), pp. 351-544, and that printed on the following pages. and in the foregoing enumeration of tribes, confederacies, and other linguistic groups. Like the other aborigines north of Mexico, the Siouan Indians were organized on the basis of kinship, and were thus in the stage of tribal society. All of the best-known tribes had

Siouan Phonetic and Graphic Arts

The Siouan stock is defined by linguistic characters. The several tribes and larger and smaller groups speak dialects so closely related as to imply occasional or habitual association, and hence to indicate community in interests and affinity in development; and while the arts (reflecting as they did the varying environment of a wide territorial range) were diversified, the similarity in language was, as is usual, accompanied by similarity in institutions and beliefs. Nearly all of the known dialects are eminently vocalic, and the tongues of the plains, which have been most extensively studied, are notably melodious; thus the leading languages