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, 1 with their present condition, are as follows:

1. Dakota-Asiniboin

Dakota (“Friendly”) or Ot´-ce-ti ca-ko-win (“Seven council-fires”) confederacy, comprising—

A. Santee, including Mde-wa-kan´-ton-wan (“Spirit Lake village”) and Wa-qpe´-ku-te (“Shoot among deciduous trees”), mostly located in Knox county, Nebraska, on the former Santee reservation, with some oa Fort Peck reservation, Montana.

     B. Sisseton or Si-si´-ton-wan´ (“Fish-scale village”), mostly on Sisseton reservation, South Dakota, partly on Devils Lake reservation, North Dakota.

     C. Wahpetou or Wa´-qpe´-ton-wan (“Dwellers among deciduous trees”), mostly on Devils Lake reservation, North Dakota.

     D. Yankton or I-hank´-ton-wan (“End village”), in Yankton village, South Dakota.

     E. Yanktonai or I-hank´-ton-wan-na (“Little End village”), comprising—

                a. Upper Yanktonai, on Standing Rock reservation, North Dakota, with the Pa´-ba-kse (“Cut head”) gens on Devils Lake reservation, North Dakota.
b. Lower Yanktonai, or Huñkpatina (“Campers at the horn [or end of the camping circle]”), mostly on Crow Creek reservation, South Dakota, with some on Standing Bock reservation, North Dakota, and others on Fort Peck reservation, Montana.

F. Teton or Ti´-ton-wan (“Prairie dwellers”), comprising—

                a. Brulé or Si-tcan´-xu (“Burnt thighs “), including Upper Brulé, mostly on Rosebud reservation, South Dakota, and Lower Brulé, on Lower Brulé reservation, in the same state, with some of both on Standing Rock reservation, North Dakota, and others on Fort Peck reservation, Montana.
b. Sans Arcs or I-ta´-zip-tco (“Without bows”), largely on Cheyenne reservation, South Dakota, with others on Standing Rock reservation, North Dakota.
c. Blackfeet or Si-ha´-sa-pa (“Black-feet”), mostly on Cheyenne reservation, South Dakota, with some on Standing Eock reservation, North Dakota.
d. Minneconjou or Mi´-ni-ko´-o-ju (“Plant beside the stream”), mostly on Cheyenne reservation, South Dakota, partly on Rosebud reservation, South Dakota, with some on Standing Rock reservation, North Dakota.
e. Two Kettles or O-o´-he non´-pa (“Two boilings”), on Cheyenne reservation, South Dakota.
f. Ogalala or O-gla´-la (“She poured out her own”), mostly on Pine Ridge reservation, South Dakota, with some on Standing Rock reservation, North Dakota, including the Wa-ja´-ja (“Fringed”) gens on Pine Ridge reservation, South Dakota, and Loafers or Wa-glu´-xe (“Inbreeders”), mostly on Pine Ridge reservation, with some on Rosebud reservation, South Dakota.
g. Huñkpapa (“At the entrance”), on Standing Rock reservation, North Dakota.

Asiuiboin (“Cook-with-stones people” in Algonquian), commonly called Nakota among themselves, and called Hohe (“Rebels”) by the Dakota; an offshoot from the Yanktonnai; not studied in detail during recent years; partly on Fort Peck reservation, Montana, mostly in Canada; comprising in 1833 (according to Prince Maximilian) 2

A. Itscheabiné (“Les gens des filles”=Girl people?).
B. Jatonabinè (“Les gens des roches”=Stone people); apparently the leading band.
C. Otopachguato (“Les gens du large”=Roamers?).
D. Otaopabinè (“Les gens des canots”=Canoe people?).
E. Tschantoga (“Les gens des bois”=Forest people).
F. Watópachnato (“Les gens de l’age”=Ancient people?).
G. Tanintauei (“Les gens des osayes”=Bone people).
H. Chábin (“Les gens des montagnes”=Mountain people).

2. ¢egiha (“People Dwelling here”) 3

     A. Omaha or U-man-han (“Upstream people”), located on Omaha reservation, Nebraska, comprising in 1819 (according to James){ 4

               a. Honga-sha-no tribe, including—

                         1. Wase-ish-ta band.
2. Enk-ka-sa-ba band.
3. Wa-sa-ba-eta-je (“Those who do not touch bears”) band.
4. Ka-e-ta-je (“Those who do not touch turtles”) band.
5. Wa-jinga-e-ta-je band.
6. Hun-guh band.
7. Kon-za band.
8. Ta-pa-taj-je band.

               b. Ish-ta-sun-da (“Gray eyes”) tribe, including—
1. Ta-pa-eta-je band.
2. Mon-eka-goh-ha (“Earth makers”) band.
3. Ta-sin-da (“Bison tail”) band.
4. Ing-gera-je-da (“Red dung”) band.
5. Wash-a-tung band.

B. Ponka (“Medicine”?), mostly on Ponca reservation, Indian Territory, partly at Santee agency, Nebraska.
C. Kwapa, Quapaw, or U-?a´-qpa (“Downstream people,” a correlative of U-man´-han), the “Arkansa” of early
writers, mostly on Osage reservation, Oklahoma, partly on Quapaw reservation, Indian Territory.
D. (D) Osage or Wa-ca´-ce (“People”), comprising—

               a. Big Osage or Pa-he´-tsi (“Campers on the mountain”), on Osage reservation, Indian Territory.
b. Little Osage or U-?se?´-ta (“Campers on the lowland,”) on Osage reservation, Indian Territory.
c. San-?su´-?¢in 5 (“Campers in the highland grove”) or “Arkansa band,” chiefly on Osage reservation, Indian Territory.

E. Kansa or Kan´-ze (refers to winds, though precise significance is unknown; frequently called Kaw), on Kansas
reservation, Indian Territory.

3. ??iwe´re (“People of this place”)

     A. Iowa or Pá-qo-tce (“Dusty-heads”), chiefly on Great Nemaha reservation, Kansas and Nebraska, partly on Sac and Fox reservation, Indian Territory.
B. Oto or Wa-to´-ta (“Aphrodisian”), on Otoe reservation, Indian Territory.
C. Missouri or Ni-u´-t’a-tci (exact meaning uncertain; said to refer to drowning of people in a stream; possibly a corruption of Ni-shu´-dje, “Smoky water,” the name of Missouri river); on Otoe reservation, Indian Territory.

4. Winnebago

Winnebago (Algonquian designation, meaning “Turbid water people”?) or Ho-tcañ-ga-ra (“People of the parent speech”), mostly on Winnebago reservation in Nebraska, some in Wisconsin, and a few in Michigan; composition never definitely ascertained; comprised in 1850 (according to Schoolcraft 6 ) twenty-one bands, all west of the Mississippi, viz.:

a. Little Mills’ band.
b. Little Dekonie’s band.
c. Maw-kuh-soonch-kaw’s band.
d. Ho-pee-kaw’s band.
e. Waw-kon-haw-kaw’s band.
f. Baptiste’s band.
g. Wee-noo-shik’s band.
h. Con-a-ha-ta-kaw’s band.
i. Paw-sed-ech-kaw’s band.
j. Taw-nu-nuk’s band.
k. Ah-hoo-zeeb-kaw’s band.
l. Is-chaw-go-baw-kaw’s band.
m. Watch-ha-ta-kaw’s band.
n. Waw-maw-noo-kaw-kaw’s band.
o. Waw-kon-chaw-zu-kaw’s band.
p. Good Thunder’s band.
q. Koog-ay-ray-kaw’s band.
r. Black Hawk’s band.
s. Little Thunder’s band.
t. Naw-key-ku-kaw’s band.
u. O-chin-chin-nu-kaw’s band.

5. Mandan

Mandan (their own name is questionable; Catlin says they called themselves See-pohs-kah-nu-mah-kah-kee, “People of the pheasants;” 7 Prince Maximilian says they called themselves Numangkake, “Men,” adding usually the name of their village, and that another name is Mahna-Narra, “The Sulky [Ones],” applied because they separated from the rest of their nation; 8 of the latter name their common appellation seems to be a corruption); on Fort Berthold reservation, North Dakota, comprising in 1804 (according to Lewis and Clark15) three villages—

a. Matootonha.
b. Rooptahee.
c. __________(Eapanopa’s village).

6. Hidatsa

     A. Hidatsa (their own name, the meaning of which is uncertain, but appears to refer to a traditional buffalo pannch
connected with the division of the group, though supposed by some to refer to “willows”); formerly called Minitari
(“Cross the water,” or, objectionally, Gros Ventres); on Fort Berthold reservation, North Dakota, comprising in
1796 (according to information gained by Matthews 9 ) three villages—

               a. Hidatsa.
b. Amatìlia (“Earth-lodge [village]”?).
c. Amaliami (“Mountain-country [people]”?).

B. Crow or Ab-sa´-ru-ke, on the Crow reservation, Montana.

7. Biloxi

     A. Biloxi (“Trifling” or “Worthless” in Choctaw) or Ta-neks´ Han-ya-di´ (“Original people” in their own language); partly
in Rapides parish, Louisiana; partly in Indian Territory, with the Choctaw and Caddo.
B. Paskagula (“Bread people” in Choctaw), probably extinct.
C. ?Moctobi (meaning unknown), extinct.
D. ?Chozetta (meaning unknown), extinct.

8. Monakan

Monakan confederacy.

A. Monakan (“Country [people of?]”), ? extinct.
B. Meipontsky (meaning unknown), extinct.
C. ?Mahoc (meaning unknown), extinct.
D. Nuntaneuck or Nuntaly (meaning unknown), extinct.
E. Mohetan (“People of the earth”?), extinct.


A. Tutelo or Ye-san´ (meaning unknown), probably extinct.
B. Saponi (meaning unknown), probably extinct. (According to Mooney, the Tutelo and Saponi tribes were intimately
connected or identical, and the names were used interchangeably, the former becoming more prominent after the
removal of the tribal remnant from the Carolinas to New York. 10 )
C. Occanichi (meaning unknown), probably extinct.

?Manahoac confederacy, extinct.

A. Manahoac (meaning unknown).
B. Stegarake (meaning unknown).
C. Shackakoni (meaning unknown).
D. Tauxitania (meaning unknown).
E. Ontponi (meaning unknown).
F. Tegniati (meaning unknown).
G. Whonkenti (meaning unknown).
H. Hasinninga (meaning unknown).

9. Catawba or Ni-ya (“People”)

     A. Catawba (meaning unknown; they called themselves Ni-ya, “Men” in the comprehensive sense), nearly extinct.
B. Woccon (meaning unknown), extinct.
C. ? Sissipahaw (meaning unknown), extinct.
D. ? Cape Fear (proper name unknown), extinct.
E. ? Warrennuncock (meaning unknown), extinct.
F. ? Adshusheer (meaning unknown), extinct.
G. ? Eno (meaning unknown), extinct.
H. ? Shocco (meaning unknown), extinct.
I. ? Waxhaw (meaning unknown), extinct.
J. ? Sugeri (meaning unknown), extinct.
K. Santee (meaning unknown).
L. Wateree (derived from the Catawba word watĕrăn, “to float in the water”).
M. Sewee (meaning unknown).
N. Congaree (meaning unknown).

10. Sara (extinct)

     A. Sara (“Tall grass”).
     B. Keyauwi (meaning unknown).

11. ? Pedee (extinct)

     A. Pedee (meaning unknown).
     B. Waccamaw (meaning unknown).
     C. Winyaw (meaning unknown).
     D. “Hooks” and “Backhooks”(?).

The definition of the first six of these divisions is based on extended researches among the tribes and in the literature representing the work of earlier observers, and may be regarded as satisfactory. In some cases, notably the Dakota confederacy, the constitution of the divisions is also satisfactory, though in others, including the Asiniboin, Mandan, and Winnebago, the tabulation represents little more than superficial enumeration of villages and bands, generally by observers possessing little knowledge of Indian sociology or language. So far as the survivors of the Biloxi are concerned the classification is satisfactory; but there is doubt concerning the former limits of the division, and also concerning the relations of the extinct tribes referred to on slender, yet the best available, evidence. The classification of the extinct and nearly extinct Siouan Indians of the east is much less satisfactory. In several cases languages are utterly lost, and in others a few doubtful terms alone remain. In these cases affinity is inferred in part from geographic relation, but chiefly from the recorded federation of tribes and union of remnants as the aboriginal population faded under the light of brighter intelligence; and in all such instances it has been assumed that federation and union grew out of that conformity in mode of thought which is characteristic of peoples speaking identical or closely related tongues. Accordingly, while the grouping of eastern tribes rests in part on meager testimony and is open to question at many points, it is perhaps the best that can be devised, and suffices for convenience of statement if not as a final classification. So far as practicable the names adopted for the tribes, confederacies, and other groups are those in common use, the aboriginal designations, when distinct, being added in those cases in which they are known.

The present population of the Siouan stock is probably between 40,000 and 45,000, including 2,000 or more (mainly Asiniboin) in Canada.Citations:

  1. The subdivisions are set forth, in the following treatise on “Siouan Sociology.”[]
  2. Travels in the Interior of North America; Translated by H. Evans Lloyd; London, 1843, p. 194. In this and other lists of names taken from early writers the original orthography and interpretation are preserved.[]
  3. “Defined in” The ¢egiha Language,” by J. Owen Dorsey, Cont. N.A. Eth., vol. VI, 1890, p. xv. Miss Fletcher, who is intimately acquainted with the Omaha, questions whether the relations between the tribes are so close as to warrant the maintenance of this division; yet as an expression of linguistic affinity, at least, the division seems to be useful and desirable.[]
  4. Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains, performed in the years 1819-1820. … under the Command of Major S.H. Long, by Edwin James; London, 1823, vol. ii, p. 47 et seq.[]
  5. Corrupted to “Chancers” in early days; cf. James ibid., vol. III, p. 108.[]
  6. Information Respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States, part I, Philadelphia, 1853, p. 498.[]
  7. Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Condition of the North American Indians, 4th edition; London, 1844, vol. I, p. 80.[]
  8. Travels, op. cit., p. 335.[]
  9. Ethnography and Philology of the Hidatsa Indiana; Miscel. Publ. No. 7, U.S. Geol. and Geog. Survey, 1877, p. 38.[]
  10. Siouan Tribes of the East, p. 37. Local names derived from the Saponi dialect were recognized and interpreted by a Kwapa when pronounced by Dorsey.[]


McGee, W. J. The Siouan Indians. Published in the Fifteenth Annual Report of Bureau of Ethnology, 1893 – 1894. Washington. 1897.

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