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Native Americans

Sioux Nation

Sioux Woman
Wife of American Horse, Dakota Sioux
by Gertrude Kasebier

History >> Native Americans for Kids

The Sioux Nation is a large group of Native American tribes that traditionally lived in the Great Plains. There are three major divisions of Sioux: Eastern Dakota, Western Dakota, and the Lakota.

Many Sioux tribes were nomadic people who moved from place to place following bison (buffalo) herds. Much of their lifestyle was based around hunting bison.

Where did the Sioux live?

The Sioux lived in the northern Great Plains in lands that are today the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Tribes travelled all over the plains, however, and sometimes ended up in other states for periods of time.

What were their homes like?

The Sioux lived in teepees made from long wooden poles and covered with bison hides. The poles would be tied together at the top and spread wide at the bottom to make the shape of an upside down cone. Teepees could be taken down and set up quickly. This enabled entire villages to move on a regular basis.

Sioux Teepee
Oglala Girl in front of a Sioux Tipi
by John C.H. Grabill

What did the Native American Sioux eat?

Some Sioux grew crops like corn, squash, and beans, however the majority of the Sioux gained most of their food from hunting. Their primary food source was meat from bison, but they also hunted deer and elk. They would dry the bison meat into a tough jerky that could be stored and lasted for over a year.

What did they wear?

The women wore dresses made from deerskin. They would decorate them with rabbit fur. The men wore leggings and buckskin shirts when it was cool. When it was really cold they would wear warm cloaks made from buffalo hides. Like most Native Americans they wore soft leather shoes called moccasins.

Lakota Indian shirt
Lakota Man's Shirt
Photo by Ducksters

One of the most important aspects of the Sioux Indian life was the bison. They used all of the bison, not just its meat for food. They used the skin and fur for blankets and clothes. They tanned the hides to make the coverings for their teepees. Bones were used as tools. The bison hair was used to make ropes and the tendons could be used for sewing thread and bow strings.

Hunting Bison

Bison are huge and dangerous animals. The Sioux had to be brave and clever to hunt them. Sometimes a brave would run the bison down with his horse and use a spear or an arrow to take down the bison. This was difficult and dangerous, but could be done with practice and skill. Before they had horses, the Sioux would cause a large herd of bison to stampede toward a cliff. The bison in the back would push the bison in the front off the cliff and hunters would be waiting at the bottom with spears and arrows to finish them off.

Horses Changed Their Life

Prior to Europeans arriving and bringing horses with them, there weren't any horses in America. The Sioux Indians would walk everywhere and hunting would take a long time. When they moved their village they couldn't carry too much and the teepees needed to be small enough so that their dogs could drag them along. When horses arrived, everything changed. The Sioux could now make much larger teepees to live in and could move a lot more stuff with them when the village relocated. Horses also made it much easier to travel and hunt buffalo. Both food and buffalo skins became much more abundant.

Interesting Facts about the Sioux Activities For more Native American history:

Culture and Overview
Agriculture and Food
Native American Art
American Indian homes and Dwellings
Homes: The Teepee, Longhouse, and Pueblo
Native American Clothing
Roles of Women and Men
Social Structure
Life as a Child
Mythology and Legends
Glossary and Terms

History and Events
Timeline of Native American History
King Philips War
French and Indian War
Battle of Little Bighorn
Trail of Tears
Wounded Knee Massacre
Indian Reservations
Civil Rights

Tribes and Regions
Apache Tribe
Cherokee Tribe
Cheyenne Tribe
Iroquois Indians
Navajo Nation
Nez Perce
Osage Nation
Sioux Nation

Famous Native Americans
Crazy Horse
Chief Joseph
Sitting Bull
Maria Tallchief
Jim Thorpe
Works Cited

History >> Native Americans for Kids

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