Angela has fifteen years of teaching experience, primarily in Special Education and Gifted Education at the K-12 level. She has a B.A. in Elementary Education and Special Education, K-12. In addition, she has a M.A.Ed. in Special Education with an emphasis in Gifted, K-12. Angela has had several research and review articles published in education journals.
How many names do you have? If you're like most American children, you probably have one - the name your parents gave you when you were born. But if you were born to the Sioux Nation, also known as the Lakota and Dakota Sioux, you would have many names. In fact, the Naming Ceremony is one of the Sioux's Seven Sacred Ceremonies. The Sioux culture is rich in customs and spirituality, and it is important that we remember their past.
History of the Sioux
The Sioux are Native Americans that originated on the Great Plains in what we know today as Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. This region was the Sioux's homeland before white settlers began expanding westward.
Can you imagine what it would feel like to have hundreds of new people moving into your town or neighborhood without asking? And what if you didn't get along? What if they wanted you to move away? This is what happened to the Sioux. A series of battles were fought from 1854-1890, known as the Sioux Wars. The Sioux fought to protect their homeland from settlers and were led by the famous chiefs Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. The United States did not recognize land rights of native people and believed it was their duty to civilize them.
The Battle of Little Bighorn, in 1876, is one of the most well-known Sioux battles, and took place by the Little Big Horn River in Montana. The U.S. Army, led by General George Custer, was outnumbered and defeated by Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors. This battle is also known as Custer's Last Stand.
After the U.S. Calvary lost to the Native Americans, the American government sent more troops west to claim territory and push the Sioux to live on reservations, or land set aside for native people. Another tragedy was the slaughtering of the buffalo.
The Sacred Buffalo
When you, or your parents, need food, clothes or other necessary supplies to live, where do you go? Probably to your nearest grocery store or shopping center. For the Sioux, the buffalo were their life source and the core of their culture. Everything the Sioux needed to survive was given to them by the buffalo and they used every part of the animal, giving thanks and blessing the animal. The buffalo provided food, shelter, clothing, weapons and toys.
Sadly, the soldiers began killing the buffalo, reducing millions of the animals to only 400. The Sioux were left with little food. Killing the buffalo made it easier for the United States to force the Sioux onto reservations.
A New Way of Life
The Battle of Wounded Knee in 1890 was one of the last battles. The Sioux living on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota were performing a spiritual Ghost Dance, which scared the white soldiers. Over 200 Sioux men, women and children were killed.
In an effort to assimilate, or make the Sioux adopt the American culture, Sioux children were taken from their homes to live at boarding schools, where they were taught English and converted to Christianity. In 1978, the Indian Welfare Act was passed, giving Native American parents their rights back.
Today, there are 150,000 Sioux and seven major tribes living on self-governed reservations. Unfortunately, there is great poverty and hardship. The Sioux try to preserve their culture and way of life by teaching customs to their children.
Many lessons can be learned from the Sioux, who have a history rich in ceremony and spirituality. With the expansion of the white men, the Sioux way of life ended, and many were placed, unwillingly, on reservations. By learning about the Sioux, we can help preserve their culture for future generations.
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