Santee Sioux Tribe

Santee Indians, Santee Sioux Indians (Isañyati, from isañ ‘knife,’ contraction of isañta-mde ‘knife lake,’ Dakota name for Mille Lacs, and ati, ‘to pitch tents at’ ). An eastern division of the Dakota, comprising the Mdewakanton and Wahpekute, sometimes also the Sisseton and Wahpeton. Hennepin (1680), who probably included only the Mdewakanton, says 1 : “In the neighborhood of Lake Buade are many other lakes, whence issue several rivers, on the banks of which live the Issati, Nadouessans, Tinthonha (which means prairie-men), Ouadebathon River People, Chongaskethon Dog, or Wolf tribe (for chonga among these nations means dog or wolf), and other tribes, all which we comprise under the name Nadouessiou [Sioux]” In Le Sueur’s list (1700) the Issati are omitted and the Mdewakanton (written Mendeoucantons) inserted, for the first time. The name Santee was applied by the Missouri River Dakota to all those of the group living on Mississippi and lower Minnesota rivers, the Mdewakanton, Wahpekute, Wahpeton, and Sisseton. Ramsey 2 and Riggs limit the use of the term to designate the Mdewakanton. McGee 3 includes only the Wahpekute, which has been the usual application of the term since 1862, when the two tribes were gathered on the Santee Rivers in Knox County, Nebraska. Reyata is mentioned as a band and Ptansinta as a village of the Santee.

The tribes forming this group joined under the collective name in the following treaties with the United States:

  • Prairie du Chien, Wis., July 15, 1830.
  • St Louis, Mo., Oct. 13, 1830.
  • Bellevue, Neb., Oct. 15, 1836.
  • Washington, D. C., Feb. 19, 1867.
  • Fort Laramie, Wyo., Apr. 29, 1868.

For Further Study

The following articles and manuscripts will shed additional light on the Santee as both an ethnological study, and as a people.


  1. Hennepin, Descr. La., Shea’s trans., 203, 1880[]
  2. Ramsey in Rep. Ind. Aff. for 1849, 74, 1850[]
  3. McGee in 15th Rep. B. A. E., 160, 1897[]

Knox County NE,

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

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