January 12, 2004

Where did the Blackfoot Sioux live in the 1700-1800s?



I am doing genealogy…researching a Blackfoot Lakota Sioux relative. Other relatives dispute this relative being Blackfoot or Blackfoot Lakota Sioux because of where she met and married her husband. Marriage MAY have occured at Lake Michigan.

Can you give me any information on where the Blackfoot or Blackfoot Lakota Sioux tribes lived (in Canada and US) during this time frame?



“Sioux” is the name given this tribe by the US Govt who got it from a bastardized version from the French, who shortened the Algonquin compound, nadowe (“snake”) plus siu (“little”), spelled Nadouéssioux, by which a neighbouring tribe, the Ojibwa or the Ottawa, referred to the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota people. This term was meant as an insult, but today the Federal Government of the United States has applied this name to represent this entire group of Souian people. 

The Lakota and Dakota Nations were once one great tribe, but eventually, sometime after White Buffalo Calf Woman appeared with the white buffalo vision and the teachings of the 7 sacred ceremonies which include the Pipe Ceremony, some people split off from the Dakota and formed the Lakota tribe, with a separate governing body, and they eventually developed their own dialect of the Siouan language.

There is also a third division known as the Nakota. Today the Dakota (also known as Santee Sioux) are known as the Eastern divison, the Nakota are the Middle division, and the Lakota are the Western divison, (also known as the Teton Sioux). The divisions are further divided into seven sub-tribes, and the larger sub-tribes are divided into smaller groups called bands. 

The Blackfoot Sioux (Black Feet of the Lakota Nation is their official U.S. title, or Sihasapa in their native language) are a subdivision of the Teton Sioux, which are also known as the Western Sioux, which are part of the Lakota Nation. (Not to be confused with the three bands of Blackfeet Indians located in Browning, Montana and southern Alberta, Canada, which are not Sioux at all, but just plain Blackfeet, which is a whole other tribe.) 🙂 

The reservation that includes the Blackfoot Sioux (Sihasapa band) is officially located in North Dakota, but the southern portion of the reservation, where most of the Blackfoot Sioux live, is in northern South Dakota. Here is their contact info:

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

(Yanktonai, Hunkpapa, and Blackfoot Sioux)

Standing Rock Reservation

Fort Yates, ND 58538

(701) 854-7201

Fax: (701) 854-7299

However, the Blackfoot Sioux did not always occupy just the North Dakota – South Dakota area.The Black Hills and surrounding plains were their home for many years but they did not always live just there, and the last of them did not go onto the reservation until 1890 after the famous Massacre at Wounded Knee in December of that year, usually accepted as the last great “battle” (depending on your perspective) of the Indian Wars in the U.S.

But, let’s back up a bit. As Europeans settled the East coast, they displaced eastern tribes who then migrated west to get away from the White civilization, and they, in their turn, displaced weaker local tribes they encountered, and pushed many of those tribes farther west as they took over their homelands or the original tribes left voluntarily as living conditons became crowded and territories shrunk.

As white people pushed farther and farther west, so did the eastern Indian tribes of North America. The tribes in this group were originally known as Woodland Indians, and later many of those tribes became known as the Plains Indians after they settled what are now known as the Midwestern States of the U.S.

At one time the Sioux tribal range extended from Canada almost to Mexico and included Southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba; eastern Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado; extreme eastern parts of New Mexico; North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Arkansas and Texas. They also occupied woodlands bounded by Lake Michigan and Lake Superior on the east, Missouri on the west; and it included all of Illinois and parts of Wisconsin and Iowa.

When they lived around the Great Lakes, they were generally called the Eastern Dakota. The portion of the tribe that first migrated west eventually became the branch of Sioux known as the Lakota, futher divided into sub-tribes that contain many bands.

So you are correct, the Sioux did occupy the Great Lakes Region, until they too were pushed West. Their big migration to the Great Plains really began only when they aquired the horse, around the mid 1700s, but I’m sure some probably began to migrate west on foot before then, and some didn’t migrate until well into the 1800s.

The main body who migrated west were driven from their Minnesota homelands by the Chippewas and later the Sioux in their turn usurped much of the Crow territory, until they were again driven out of most of their territory by the whites. There are still some Souix bands living around the Great Lake region today.

And of course, 50% of all Sioux people live off reservations today and some never went on reservations at all, but chose to flee to Canada.

Sometimes the Blackfoot Sioux are confused with the Blackfoot Indian Nations, which are an entirely different tribal alliance made up of four tribes which are called Blackfoot Indians in Canada, and Blackfeet Indians in Montana, USA. You can find more information on the Blackfoot Indian nation here.  Learn about some of the BlackfootNative American culture and customs.  There is a long history that has followed theBlackfoot people.

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