The Lakota Indians are strongly associated with the Native American rights movement, and some of the most dramatic battles of the 19th century against the white man. The Lakota Indians were founders of the American Indian Movement and have been quite influential in convincing the American government to be aware of the rights of all Native Americans. When there are any issues concerning reservations and the mainstream American government, the Lakota Indians are at the forefront, and are usually counted on to bring awareness of Native American issues to the nation at large.
The Lakota were Plains Indians located in South and North Dakota. However, they were not originally located on the Plains, but the Lakota Indians were originally woodland hunters and gatherers. They adapted to plains life by herding and hunting bison and other large animals. Originally nomadic, when the Lakota settled on the Plains, they created homes and social organizations, remaining in one place.
There are many famous Indian battles associated with the Lakota Indians. In 1876, the Lakota and the Cheyenne Indians fought Custer, and in the battle of Little Big Horn, the Lakota Indians were forced to give their sacred Black Hills to Mining interests. In 1890, Chief Big Foot was attacked at Wounded Knee Creek. This battle is the source for the expression “Bury My Heart and Wounded Knee” and “Wounded Knee” is a byword for Indian rights and wrongs of the past.
The Lakota currently live on reservations and are very conscious of their history and culture. They are proud their history, and at the same time, carry the wounds of conflicts with the white man and having the Black Hills taken away from them. Today, the Lakota are involved in all aspects of political life and commerce, although many produce traditional arts and crafts as a reminder of their history and culture.
Joseph Paige © 2006