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Migration toward the Southwest
The Sioux were first noted historically in the Jesuit Relation of 1640, when they were living in what is now Minnesota. Their traditions indicate that they had moved there some time before from the northeast. They were noted in 1678 by the French explorer Daniel Duluth and in 1680 by Father Louis Hennepin in the Mille Lacs region in Minnesota. Their migration had been in a southwesterly direction in the face of the hostile Ojibwa, who had been equipped with guns by Europeans.
In the mid-18th cent., having driven the Cheyenne and Kiowa out of the Black Hills, the Sioux inhabited the N Great Plains and the western prairies—mainly in Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, and up into the bordering provinces of Canada. They then numbered at least 30,000. The Tetons, numbering some 15,000, were the most populous of the seven tribes, and the Oglala Sioux, the largest group of the Teton, numbered some 3,000. The Sioux had a typical Plains-area culture, including buffalo hunting and the sun dance.
Relations with White Settlers
In relations with the white settlers all the divisions of the Sioux have a similar history. The Sioux became friendly with the British after the fall of the French power and supported the British against the United States in the American Revolution and (with the exception of one chief, Tohami, also known as Rising Moose) in the War of 1812. The United States concluded treaties with the Sioux in 1815, 1825, and 1851. A portion of the Sioux under Little Crow rose in 1862 and massacred more than 800 settlers and soldiers in Minnesota; this revolt was suppressed but unrest continued.
In 1867 a treaty was concluded by which the Sioux gave up a large section of territory and agreed to retire to a reservation in SW Dakota before 1876. The discovery of gold in the Black Hills and the subsequent rush of prospectors brought resistance under the leadership of such chiefs as Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, Rain-in-the-Face, Crazy Horse, American Horse, and Gall. In this revolt occurred the famous last stand by Gen. George Armstrong Custer. The last major conflict fought by the Sioux was the battle of Wounded Knee, Dec. 29, 1890, which resulted in the massacre of more than 200 members of the tribe.
The Sioux Today
See R. H. Ruby, The Oglala Sioux (1955); G. E. Hyde, A Sioux Chronicle (1956); C. M. Oehler, The Great Sioux Uprising (1959); K. Carley, The Sioux Uprising of 1862 (1961); R. M. Utley, The Last Days of the Sioux Nation (1963); R. Hassrick, The Sioux (1964); E. Nurge, ed., The Modern Sioux (1970); R. Burnette, The Tortured Americans (1971); E. T. Denig, Five Indian Tribes of the Upper Missouri (1975); P. Hamalainen, Lakota America (2019).