The Lakota Indians are a Native American group who are part of the Confederation of Sioux. They mainly have resided around North and South Dakota. They believe that they are descendants of the eagle which to them is considered the wisest of birds. That is why we always wore the eagle plume, and still wear it (Indianlegend.com, 2008). The Lakota basically believe that there was a great flood, as found much throughout history that left only one survivor. An eagle rescued her, made her his wife, and together they populated the world. While it is not clear as to their origin, many people have suggested that they originated in the Mississippi valley.They have been traced to around 900CE. The majority of the Lakota Indians reside on one of five Indian reservations situated in the Dakotas.
These Indians have stretched their presence from the Mississippi Valley, all the way to parts of Canada.”Sioux” is short for the Anishinabe term “nadouessioux,” meaning “snake”; the oldest primary designations are Lakota and Dakota, variant words for “allies”(Dream Catchers.org). It has been speculated that the Lakota have had ties to the ancient Cohokians. It is most likely that the Lakota chased buffalo and migrated, as it was their staple food source. If the buffalo were always migrating, then it is possible that the Lakota people were always moving across the country, constantly entering new territory and making allies as well as enemies (Indians.org, 2008).
Contrary to the meaning of their name, which translates to allies, the Lakota had ancient enemies and seasonal warfare was a common theme. Lakota means “allies, friends or those who are united (Akta, 2008). Today the Lakota live on the largest reservations in the United States. They make up one of the seven tribes of Confederation of Sioux tribes and have origins from their language and cultural practices from the Sioux. Roughly 25 years after the civil war The Lakota were massacred at what is now known as The Wounded Knee Massacre. Troops from the United States Army went in to the reservation of the Lakota in hopes of disarming them but the natives were reluctant in giving in. The United States opened fire with the newly acquired Hotchkiss gun killing men women and children with no regard. When the smoke cleared almost all of the 300 men, women, and children were dead (U.S History.org, 2008).
The Lakota are noted for their resistance that influenced other Native Americans to stand up against the United States.The Wounded Knee Massacre was a tragic disagreement between the Lakota and The United States Army. In the end, U.S. forces killed at least 150 men, women, and children of the Lakota Sioux and wounded 51 (four men, and 47 women and children, some of whom died later); some estimates placed the number of dead at 300(Oglalalakotanation.org, 2012). Today, there are only about 70,000 registered Lakota Indians (Indians.org, 2008). The Lakota of today have their own reservations with its own governing laws.They have a separate system that makes up the Confederation of the Sioux. Hence, the tribal group has a separate political system, police department, education system; etc (Indians.org, 2008). The Sioux was so large that it has had influence in native cultures across much of the United States. Sioux language is made of three dialects that include the Lakota. The other dialects are Nakota and Dakota. These dialects developed because the Sioux were spread out over the vast plains region of North America (Akta, 2014).
The Lakota economy of today is a lot different than it was hundreds of years ago. Before, The Lakota did not use money as a form of currency and were able to provide for their society with plenty of hard work. The Lakota always had to make sure that they all provided in order to maintain their community. The Lakota of the past would fast in times of drought in hopes of obtaining more food from Grandmother Earth. The general well being of all was the premier Lakota political principle (Wicahpi, 2014). A local resource for local needs is the best way to define the Lakota order of feeding and sheltering all the people. Since The United States has begun intervening with the Lakota, there has been a devastating impact on their system of dependency. Abject poverty, diseases resulting from a sedentary way of life, alcoholism, and unemployment are reflections of the sociocultural alterations brought by the U.S. government (Jewell, 2006).
Today the Lakota like many Native American tribes face high unemployment rates, alcoholism and are poverty stricken. Getting a loan for a car or house can be a daunting task as there are not any banks on the Pine Ridge Reservation, making it almost impossible to secure credit. In fact it is the nature of the trust relationship enacted by congress in the 19th century that has prevented residents of Pine Ridge from having collateral to secure a loan as the lands that all reservations sit on are held in trust by the United States government (Jewell. 2006). The Lakota fund that was started in 1986 has been a way to help alleviate some of the turmoil that has presented itself within the Lakota Reservations but it was disbanded after it proved to have cultural repercussions. The structure of the Lakota fund was modeled off of the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, which allowed people who would otherwise be unable to procure business loans to form a credit group that could collectively obtain credit from a lender (Jewell, 2006).Many groups and organizations have tried to revive the Lakota economy by insisting that these people need to have a fine tuned balance between ecology and economy.
Jobs have less to do with skill sets and more to do with relationships in Lakota life. Many jobs, other than those issued by the government, are temporary or part -time, making it difficult to have any job security. Nonprofit organizations struggling to continue in existence will bring on workers for short term projects but often cannot maintain a year round full-time staff (Pickering, 2004). Trust has always been a problem between Native Americans and The United States. On one hand the Native Americans have had their treaties violated and have been forced from their lands and on the other hand, The United States has had to deal with the distrust of organizations like BIA, who have face charges of corruption. The distrust between the two has limited the space for progress.
Trade has helped support many families in Lakota Reservations. Many of the Lakota will work a wage job if money is needed to purchase a commodity or necessity, or someone might trade a skilled labor for a food source. When you don’t need money, you engage in other activities that may or may not appear economic from the viewpoint of the federal government, but nonetheless secure future to and participation in social ventures that generate material necessities of life (Pickering, 2004).
With an unemployment rate of nearly 83-85%, in winter this rate can get even higher as travel becomes difficult, making it nearly impossible for employees to get to work. According to 2006 resources, about 97% of the Pine Ridge population lives below Federal poverty levels (Avada, 2012). There is little industry, technology, or commercial infrastructure on the Reservation to provide adequate employment for those who live in the Reservations.
When it comes to education in the Lakota tribes, the newer generations often cannot even speak their native language fluently. They are able to understand the language but are subjected to speak English in the school systems. They also believe that their native language is not in the latest style and feel embarrassed when speaking in their native tongue. Many children can barely understand Lakota, and they tend not to speak it because it is not “cool” (Bluearm, 1996). Many of the Lakota have tried to keep their language alive through storytelling and preserving their history.They are also known for teaching their children morals and having close spiritual ties. Many have chosen to assimilate into popular American culture ,while others make the effort to teach and preserve the culture and language. Just as many Native American tribes have struggled ,so have the Lakota, on a long hard road with obstacles and policies that have turned their world upside down,with the largest Native American tribe being forced into assimilation.
Indians.org (2008-2014). Lakota Indians. Retrieved from http://www.indians.org/articles/lakota-indians.html
Oglalalakotanation.org. (2012). Oglala Lakota Nation. Retrieved from http://www.oglalalakotanation.org/oln/History.html
Akta, (2014). The Sioux name and dialects. Retrieved from http://aktalakota.stjo.org/site/PageServer?pagename=alm_culture_origins