Hunkpapa Sioux Tribe

Last Updated on July 26, 2014 by

Hunkpapa Tribe, Hunkpapa Indians, Hunkpapa Sioux Indians. ( Hunkpapa is variously interpreted ‘at the entrance, ‘at the head end of the circle,’ ‘those who camp by themselves,’ and `wanderers’). A division of the Teton Sioux. From the meager data relating to the history of this band it seeing probable that it is one of comparatively modern formation. When Hennepin, in 1680, found what are believed to have been the Teton as far as the banks of the upper Mississippi, no mention of the Hunkpapa at that early date or for 100 years there after can be found unless it be under some name yet unidentified. Their name is not mentioned by Lewis and Clark, though it is possible that the tribe is included in the Tetons Saone of those explorers. The name first appears as Honkpapa, and it is properly written Honkpapa in the treaty of 1825. It is evident that the tribe was then well known, although its history previous to this date is undetermined. The Tetons Saone were located by Lewis and Clark, in 1804, on both sides of the Missouri below Beaver creek, North Dakota, and were estimated at 300 men or 900 souls in 120 tipis. Ramsey (1849) gave their location as near Cannonball river. Culbertson (1850) gave their range as on the Cheyenne, Moreau, Grand, and Cannonball rivers, and estimated them at 320 tipis. Gen. Warren (1855) said that they lived on the Missouri near the mouth of the Moreau and roamed from the Big Cheyenne up to the Yellowstone, and west to the Black Hills. He states that they formerly intermarried extensively with the Cheyenne. His estimate of population is 365 tipis, 2,920 souls. He adds that many of the depredations along the Platte “are committed by the Unkpapas and Sihasapas.” It is indicative of their character that they were among the last of the Dakota to be brought upon reservations. The Indian agent, writing in 1854, says: “All the bands of Sioux have already received their presents with great appearance of friendship, excepting the Minnecowzues (Miniconjou), Blackfeet (Sihasapa), and Honepapas (Hunknapa). The former band are daily expected at the fort, and will gladly receive their annuities; but the Blackfeet and Honepapas still persist in refusing any annuities, and are constantly violating all the stipulations of the treaty. They are continually warring and committing depredations on whites and neighboring tribes, killing men and stealing horses. They even defy the Great Father, the President, and declare their intention to murder indiscriminately all that come within their reach. They, of all Indians, are now the most dreaded on the Missouri.” And when the agent finally succeeded in reaching them and holding a council with their chiefs at Fort Clark, they’ refused to receive the presents sent by the Government, stating that they did not want them, but preferred the liberty to take scalps and commit whatever depredations they pleased. They took part in most of the subsequent conflicts with the whites, as that at Ft Phil. Kearney and that with Custer on the Little Bighorn. The number of the band in 1891 was 571: these were gathered on Standing Rook Creek reservation, North and South Dakota.

The population is no longer given separately. The noted Sitting Bull was chief of this tribe, though in making treaties he signed also for the Oglala.

Subdivisions and Bands of the Hunkpapa Tribe

The Hunkpapa Tribe was broken down into subdivisions and bands. Their subdivisions as given by J. O. Dorsey are:

  1. Chankaokhan
  2. Cheokhba
  3. Tinazipeshicha
  4. Talonapin
  5. Kiglashka
  6. Chegnakeokisela
  7. Shikshichela
  8. Wakan
  9. Hunskachantozhuha

Culbertson 1 mentions the following bands:

  • Devil’s medicine-man band (Wakan)
  • Half breechclout people (Chegnakeokisela)
  • Fresh meat necklace people (Talonapin)
  • Sleepy Kettle band (Cheokhba)
  • Sore backs (Chankaokhan)
  • Bad bows (Tinazipeshicha)
  • Those that carry
  • Fire-Heart’s band (Chantaapeta’s band) is supposed to be a part of the Hunkpapa.


  1. Culbertson, Smithson. Rep. 1850, 141, 1851[]

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

5 thoughts on “Hunkpapa Sioux Tribe”

  1. KATHERINE Vantlin

    How does one track down their indian heritage? I’ve been told that “Sitting Bull” is my 10th grandfather.

    1. 10th grandfather is too far back for the famous sitting Bull who lived in the mid to later half of the 1800s primarily. 4-5th would be more likely.

      Are you related to the Lapointe family ? If not then your family story was almost certainly mistaken.

  2. “The noted Sitting Bull was chief of this tribe, though in making treaties he signed also for the Oglala.”,
    No, he didn’t. The man who signed the treaties was an Oglala, who was known as Sitting Bull or Packs-The-Drum. two different persons!

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