American Indian Communities in Minnesota - SIOUX (DAKOTA/LAKOTA) AMERICAN INDIAN COMMUNITIES

American Indian Communities in Minnesota

A relatively small number of American Indians in Minnesota are Sioux compared to the Chippewa. Their reservations are located in southern Minnesota, and include the Lower Sioux, Prairie Island, Shakopee Mdewakanton, and Upper Sioux Reservations.

Prior to 1600, the Sioux inhabited much of Minnesota and were later forced to occupy lesser areas by the Chippewa.(13) The Sioux signed two treaties in 1851, which established adjacent reservations on either side of a section of the Minnesota River. In 1858, these were reduced to an area on the southern bank of the river.(14)

Existence on the diminished reservation led to a situation where it was extremely difficult for the Sioux to support themselves by traditional means. They were starving and had been lied to by the government. This resulted in the Sioux conflict of 1862. Around 1,400 people died in the conflict, both American Indians and white settlers. In addition, 38 Sioux were hanged in Mankato. After the conflict ended, the Forfeiture Act of 1863 negated the established reservation and treaty rights. Most tribal members were expelled from Minnesota. Of those who remained, many were homeless and wandering. The current Sioux reservations were established beginning in 1886 through a federal trust for those still residing in Minnesota who were friendly to non-Indians.(15)

Originally, the Sioux government was a democracy with the people holding all the power, only delegating it temporarily and for special purposes. At that time, decisions were made by councils and a similar situation exists today. In the recent past (1971-84), the Sioux communities had an umbrella organization, but the members decided that handling affairs individually would be most beneficial, so the organization was dissolved. Currently, the governing body on the reservations is the Community Council, composed of five members elected to two-year terms by each reservation community.(16)

Note: Sioux communities operate tribal health services through means other than providing direct physician services. This includes contracting for local physician services and purchasing health insurance for tribal members. Health service information listed on the following pages for Sioux communities is presented in contract user format, which is utilized as a description of tribal members receiving health care.(17)

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