July 13, 2012

Crow Creek Sioux Tribe of the Crow Creek Reservation


The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe consists of the members of the Isanti and Ihanktowan  divisions of the Great Sioux Nation. The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe is composed of descendants of two Divisions of Dakota  and Nakota people. The Ihanktowan, or Yankton and Yanktonais are called the  Middle Sioux. The Isanti or Dakota people are comprised of four bands that lived  on the eastern side of the Dakota Nation.

Official Tribal Name: Crow Creek Sioux Tribe of the Crow Creek Reservation

Address:  PO Box 50, Ft. Thompson, SD 57339-0050
Phone:  (605) 245-2221
Fax:  (605) 245-2789

Official Website:

Recognition Status: Federally Recognized

Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning:

Dakhóta and Nakhóta, usually said to mean “allies or friends.” (See below.)
Ihanktowan, meaning  “Village at the End” or Ihanktowana, meaning “little village at the end.”
Isanti (Santee), meaning “knife” (originating from the name of a lake in present-day Minnesota) or Isáŋyáthi , meaning “Knife Makers.”

Common Names:

Dakota and Nakota
Yankton and Yanktonai or Yanktonais (plural form)
Middle Sioux (Yankton and Yanktonais)
Western Dakota (Isanti or Santee)

Meaning of Common Name:

Dakota and Nakota, along with Lakota, are all accepted to mean “allies or friends.” However, the real definition of Lakota is “those who consider themselves kindred.” The Da syllable in Dakota means “like (or related)[to Lakota].”

Dakotah derives from the word ‘WoDakotah,” meaning “harmony – a condition of being at peace with oneself and in harmony with one another and with nature. A condition of lifestyle patterned after the natural order of nature.”

These are all the same base language, with a slight variation in dialect, similar to the differences between American English and Australian English and European English.

See this detailed explanation of Sioux Names and Sioux Nations.

Alternate names:

Sioux – The United States government took the word Sioux from (Nadowesioux), which comes  from a Chippewa (Ojibway) word which means little snake or enemy. The French  traders and trappers who worked with the Chippewa( Ojibway) people shortened the word to Sioux. The term Sioux can refer to any ethnic group within the Great Sioux Nation or any of the nation’s many language dialects.

Mdewakantonwan – One of the sub-tribes of the Isanti. Their historic home is Mille Lacs Lake in central Minnesota, which in the Dakota language was called mde wakan (mystic/spiritual lake). Together with the Wahpekute (Waȟpékhute – “Shooters Among the Trees”), they form the so-called Upper Council of the Dakota or Santee Sioux.

Alternate spellings / Mispellings:

Dakhota, Dakhota, Nakhota, Nahota, Dakotah, Nakotah, Nakoda, Dakoda 

Name in other languages:

Chippewa (Ojibway) – Nadowesioux, meaning “little snake or enemy.”

Region: Great Plains

State(s) Today: South Dakota

Traditional Territory:

At one time The Great Sioux Nation extended from the Big Horn Mountains in the  west to the east side of Minnesota. Canada was the northern boundary and the  Platte River was the southern boundary.

Confederacy: Sioux Nation


The Tribes of the Great Sioux Nation signed treaties in 1824, 1851,1863 and the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 with the United States.

Reservation: Crow Creek Reservation

Crow Creek is located on the Missouri River 60 miles southeast of Pierre and is inside Buffalo County, South Dakota. The reservation and the  
Crow Creek Sioux Tribe are organized into three Districts: Big Bend, Crow Creek, and Fort Thompson.
Crow Creek Sioux Reservation Overview
Land Area:  Total Area:  225,000 acres 
                   Tribal Owned/Use:  64,578 acres
                   Individual Allotted: 60,905 acres
                   Total Tribal/Allotted: 125,483 acres
                   Non-Indian Owned: 99,517 acres
                   Reservoir Taken area: 16,000 acres

Tribal Headquarters:  Ft. Thompson, South Dakota
Time Zone:  

Tribal Flag: (Buy flag here)

Population at Contact:

Registered Population Today:

 3,000 enrolled members,  with 2,816 tribal members and non-members living on the reservation as of 1996.

Tribal Enrollment Requirements:

Genealogy Resources:


Charter:  None
Name of Governing Body:  Tribal Council
Number of Council members:   The Tribal Council consists of a
Chairman, Vice-Chairman,  Secretary/Treasurer and four additional
Councilmen which are elected by the  tribal members.
Dates of Constitutional amendments: Constitution and Bylaws Approved: April 26, 1949
Number of Executive Officers:  


The Tribal Chairman, Officers and Council serve a term of two years. One  Council member is elected from two districts, Big Bend and Crow Creek, and  two are elected from the largest district.

The Tribal Chairman and all other positions are elected every two years and elections are not staggered.  Primaries occur in March and General Elections taking place in June.  The Tribal Council appoints the Vice-Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer from among their membership. The chosen individual serves for two years.  The Chairman is elected at-large.

Number of Election districts or communities: 3

The majority of the population now lives in the community and district known as Fort Thompson.

Prior to the inundation of lands along the Missouri River, many of the  people lived on the river bottom lands. The entire community of Fort  Thompson, schools and a hospital had to be completely relocated to higher  ground. The infrastructure, schools and hospitals were never rebuilt as  promised.

Language Classification: Siouan

Language Dialects: Primarily Dakota.

The Isanti and Ihanktowan speak the ‘D’ and ‘N’ dialect of Siouan language. The government identified all the Tribes with similar languages as the Sioux  people. The oral tradition of our people state that the Lakota and Dakota people  were one nation. The Lakota people broke away and formed their own nation.

Lakota (Lakhóta), spoken by about 9,000 people in seven tribes,  the Oglala, in the US states of Northern Nebraska, southern Minnesota, North and South  Dakota and northeastern Montana, and also in Canada

Western Dakota (Dakhóta), spoken by a few hundred people in  two tribes: the Yankton and Yanktonai.

Eastern Dakota (Dakhóta), spoken by a few hundred people in  four tribes: the Santee, Sisseton, Wahpeton and Wahpekute.

The two Nakoda languages (Assiniboi and Stoney) are not considered part of the “Sioux” language as they are not mutually intelligible or politically  affiliated with the Sioux. They do belong to the Siouan language family,  as do many other languages.

Written Sioux

The first alphabet for Sioux, known as Riggs, was devised by the missionaries Samuel and Gideon Pond, Stephen Return Riggs and Dr Thomas S. Williamson in 1834. They based their spelling system on the Santee dialect (Dakota) and used it to translate biblical texts into that dialect. The Dakota translation of the bible was well known and used among the Dakota and Lakota.

A revised version of this system was used in Riggs’ Dakota Grammar, published in 1852, and in his Dakota-English dictionary, published in 1890. Since then a number of other Lakota and Dakota spelling systems have been devised.

Number of fluent Speakers:


Online Lakota Dictionary
Lakota Dictionary Online


Bands, Gens, and Clans

Division: Santee, Yankton
Bands: Mdewakanton (People of Spirit Lake), Ihanktonwan (People of the End)

Related Tribes:

Sioux divisions, tribes, and bands 

Traditional Allies:

Traditional Enemies: Chippewa 

Ceremonies / Dances:

The Lakota/Dakota people still practice their sacred and traditional ceremonies  which encompass the seven rites of the Lakota Nation brought by the White Buffalo Calf Woman. 

Modern Day Events & Tourism:

Social activities such as powwow, rodeos, and races are celebrated in the summer  months. Special powwows are held for individuals who have accomplished a stage in their  lives such as graduation or acceptance in the armed forces, along with traditional  honoring ceremonies, give-aways, and feasts to celebrate their accomplishments.

The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe sponsors two annual pow wows, one in early  June and the Lower Brule Fair and Pow Wow the second week in August. This  event also includes a rodeo, horse racing, and a softball  tournament. During  the year other sports activities such as softball, volleyball, and  basketball tournaments are also held.

The Tribe operates the Lode Star Casino and Restaurant. Tribal organizations sponsor high stakes bingo games most nights of the week.

The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe has some of finest hunting and fishing around  with guided hunts provided by the Wildlife
Management Department. The community of Fort Thompson has a campground near the Big Bend dam with several beach areas and boat ramps for fishing and water sports.

I  am looking for hunting opportunities on the Crow Creek Reservation

Legends / Oral Stories:

The oral tradition is still passed down from the elders to the youth.

Create your own reality
Lakota Star Legends
Legend of the Talking Feather
The End of the World according to Lakota legend
The Legend of Devil’s Tower
The White Buffalo Woman
Tunkasila, Grandfather Rock
Unktomi and the arrowheads

Art & Crafts:

Sioux craftsmen are best known for their beautiful beadwork, using thousands of small glass beads called seed beads. 






Both were a river-plains people who did some farming as well as buffalo hunting.

Economy Today:

The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe’s major economic occupation is cattle ranching and farming for 20 tribal operators. The Bureau of Indian Affairs NRIS data identifies a total of 15,121 acres  of farmland on the Crow Creek reservation, including 3,480 of irrigated  acres.

The Tribe operates a large irrigated  farm under the Big Bend Farm Corporation, guided hunting for small game, big  game, and a goose camp operation. The Tribe also operates the Lode Star  Casino and liquor store.

Commercial business by private operators include a convenience store,  laundromat, and a video arcade/fast food shop, hunting/fishing guide  service, arts and handcrafts, and a small motel.

The majority of employment is provided by the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe,  Lode Star Casino, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Indian Health  Service.

Problems with water quality and inadequate supply are common throughout  the reservation. This condition has a detrimental effect on health and  quality of life as well as deterring economic growth. The availability of a  plentiful and high quality water supply is vital to the health and well  being of the people living on the Crow Creek Reservation. The level of  health and quality of life of the general population is directly related  to the quality of their domestic water supply.

Many residents currently  depend on poorly-constructed or low-capacity individual wells. These sources  are often contaminated with bacteria or undesirable minerals, provide an  inadequate quantity of water, and are costly to maintain and operate. Many  people wish to return to their family lands or relocate to rural areas to  raise their families but are limited by the unavailability of  water.

Agriculture is the primary industry on the Crow Creek Reservation and the  key to the full development of this industry is water. Surface water in  small streams, lakes, and dugouts is scattered throughout the area. Surface  water, however, is unreliable year-round and generally available only during  the wet periods of spring. During drought periods, these sources often dry up, and livestock must be sold or moved off the reservation.

Shallow  groundwater is scarce and unreliable and deep groundwater, while generally  more plentiful, is highly mineralized and of poor quality. This lack of an  adequate water supply has also reduced the livestock production on the reservation. The grazing lands cannot be fully utilized and valuable  resource is wasted. The lack of stability in the production of feeder-cattle  also discourages related industrial development such as cattle feeding,  packing plants, and other value added industries.

Shallow groundwater is not obtainable on most  of the Crow Creek Indian Reservation, and where it is found, it is often of  poor quality. Surface waters, with the exception of the Missouri River,  though valuable and widely distributed resources, are undependable because  of scanty and erratic precipitation. Artesian water from deeply buried bedrock aquifers underlies all of the reservation. These aquifers are not,  and probably will not become highly developed sources of water because of  the high-to-very-high salinity and other mineral content of artesian water  in most of the area.

Surface water is the major water  source for the reservation with the Missouri River providing by far the  largest part of the surface water supply. Other reservation streams have  extremely variable flow patterns and are not reliable enough for a  year-round supply. Groundwater is not as abundant as surface water and where  available it is usually adequate for only small scale use. For these  reasons, the Missouri River is the obvious source for a reservation  water supply system.

The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe currently utilizes the Missouri River as the  source for the Fort Thompson community water system at a current level of  150/200,000 gallons per day. Well water systems serve the Big Bend and Crow  Creek communities located on the northwest and southeast corners of the  reservation. The Tribe under a PL. 93-638 contract with the Bureau of  Reclamation has completed a rural water needs assessment and plans to seek  funds for a rural water system to serve the reservation.

Water is the key to increasing the quality of life and promoting full  economic development on the Crow Creek Reservation.

Religion & Spiritual Beliefs:
The Sioux Drum

Burial Customs:

Wedding Customs


Famous Sioux Chiefs and Leaders:


Shawn Hawk – (born 17 May 1984 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, United States) is a professional boxer who fights in the light heavyweight division having previously boxed at Cruiserweight.

Arthur Amiotte, (Oglala Lakota)-Painter, Sculptor, Author, Historian

Oscar Howe – artist (painter and corn mural artist at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD) He was artist laureate of South Dakota.


Elizabeth Cook-Lynn – Taught Native American Studies for 20 years before becoming a full-time writer. She is the author of two novels and a collection of short stories


Bryan Akipa, flutist (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate)

Other Famous Contemporary People:

Mylo SmithComedian  

Jr. Redwater – Comedian

Major Stephanie R. Griffith – Soldier (Marines) and  Bronze Star recipient.

Elizabeth Cook-Lynn – Professor Emerita of English and Native American Studies at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington.

Catastrophic Events:

Tribe History:

The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe is part of the Great Sioux Nation which retains our land base in accordance with Treaties in the mid 1800’s which identified lands in eastern South Dakota and Minnesota. The Treaty of 1863 established the original land base along the Missouri River. The reservation was increased in size in the 1889 Act referred to as the Great Sioux Settlement. At one time The Great Sioux Nation extended from the Big Horn Mountains in the west to the east side of Minnesota. Canada is the northern boundary and the Platte River in the southern boundary.

The eastern land holdings of the Dakota and Nakota were subsequently reduced by Homestead Acts, other Congressional action, and the courts. The Great Sioux Nation total land ownership was further reduced in the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty to the east side of the Missouri River and parts of North Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana. This includes all of western South Dakota in the middle of the treaty lands.

Crow Creek retained land on the east side of the Missouri River. The present day tribal lands are about one half of the original reservation due to Homestead Acts allowing white settlers to locate within the reservation boundaries.

The Black Hills are located in the center the Great Sioux Nation. The Black Hills are sacred to the Lakota/ Dakota people and today considered an important part of our spiritual lives. A direct violation of the 1868 Treaty was committed in 1874 by General George A. Custer and his 7th Cavalry. The 7th Cavalry entered the Black Hills, the center of the Great Sioux Nation and found gold in the Black Hills. The Gold Rush started the conflict between the United States and Great Sioux Nation.

The Great Sioux Nation opposed this violation of the treaty. The United States Government wanted to buy or rent the Black Hills from the Dakota/Lakota people. The Great Sioux Nation refused to sell or rent their sacred lands.

The 7th Cavalry under General George A. Custer was requested to bring the Sioux bands in and place them on the reservation lands. On June 25, 1876, the Battle of the Little Big Horn between the 7th Cavalry and Lakota Nation with their allies Cheyenne and Araphos at Greasy Grass, Montana took place. The Sioux Nation won a victory over General George A. Custer and his 7th Cavalry.

The Great Sioux Nation scattered, some to Canada and others surrendered to the reservations. The United States Government demanded that the Lakota nation move to the reservations. The people finally surrendered after being cold and hungry and moved on the reservations. The government still insisted buying the Black Hills from the Lakota people.

The Sioux Nation refused to sell their sacred lands. The United States Government introduced the Sell or Starve Bill or the Agreement of 1877, which illegally took the Black Hills from the Great Sioux Nation. The Dakota/Lakota people starved but refused to sell their sacred land.

The Allotment of 1887 also allotted Indian lands into 160 acre lots to adult male heads of household and 80 acre lots to adult males to further divide the nation. The Act of 1889 broke up the Great Sioux Nation into smaller reservations, the remainder of which exist today at about one half their original size in 1889.

Descendants Remember Battle of Little Big Horn

In the News:

Further Reading:

100 Questions, 500 Nations: A Guide to Native America

Not without Our Consent: Lakota Resistance to Termination, 1950-59

Lakota Woman, the Story of Mary Crow Dog

The Journey of Crazy Horse  

US Tribes C to D
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