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Tribal Studies Sioux Indians

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THE SIOUX HISTORY AND INITIATIONS The Sioux are one of the most commonly known tribes of Native Americans in the world. Their image was often used for many movies and television shows, and their pictures and paintings were used to show people around the world, what Indians looked like. The Sioux could be considered as the prototype of Indians in North America. However, this tribe is more than just one clan; these peoples were divided into three main tribes who lived in the northern plains of North America; the Dakota to the east, the Yankton in the middle, and finally the Lakota to the west, and each of these divided into subunits correspondingly. They came from Asia about 3,000 years ago and their features resembled those of the Japanese or Chinese. The word Sioux was given to these people by the Frenchmen, who degraded the word "Natawesiwak" from the Chippewa (Ojibiwa) tribe. The word Sioux meant "enemy" or "snake", even though the Sioux called themselves Dakota, which meant "friendly" and "ally". The Sioux followed a nomadic lifestyle since they were often moving from place to place and did not have a stable area were they lived. ...read more.


Boys who reached puberty went into a "Hanblecheyapi" or "vision quest" to accomplish manhood, in which they had to make contact with the spirit world, but first they had to purify themselves by taking a sweat bath in a willow-stick lodge covered with bison skins (Encarta). In addition, a shaman prayed and invoked spirits to help the boys in their initiation. After the purification, the boys had to walk through a hilltop only wearing moccasins and a loincloth. Once there, they had to stay for 4 days without any kind of food or contact with any human being until they reached a state where they had apparitions of spirits who would take form of an animal or human and who would give the boys some guidance that they should follow for the rest of their lives. Even though this ceremony was mainly done during the initiation of the boys, it could also be repeated at any time during the life of a Sioux Indian for the purpose of spiritual assistance. In the case of girls, they could also take a vision quest, although it was not very common and not as necessary as in the case of boys. ...read more.


The Sioux also prophesized that one day all of the white people would disappear and all of their dead relatives would resurrect and their old Indian life would be restored. In an attempt to end with the ghost dance movement, the United States Army attacked the remains what was once a great tribe. This war was called the Wounded Knee Battle, where many Indians died. Since then, the Sioux have lived in reservations in South and North Dakota, Nebraska, and northwestern Montana. Many Indians were forced to move to big cities and find jobs since they were living in extreme poverty and had no other way of survival. Nowadays, most of the Sioux reservations are very poor, and have no electricity or running waters. They try to preserve their traditional ways of living, and are governed by a tribal council and a chief, all elected by the tribe members. The initiation in young boys and girls is still performed throughout reservations, although it is only required for those jobs of chiefs or medicine men since the jobs of warriors are not being performed by Sioux Indians anymore. Even though the Sioux Indians have had so many difficulties during the last few centuries, they are still struggling for a life full of peace and harmony (Gibbon). ...read more.

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