Extent Of The Stock

Out of some sixty aboriginal stocks or families found in North America

above the Tropic of Cancer, about five-sixths were confined to the tenth

of the territory bordering Pacific ocean; the remaining nine-tenths of the

land was occupied by a few strong stocks, comprising the Algonquian,

Athapascan, Iroquoian, Shoshonean, Siouan, and others of more limited


The Indians of the Siouan stock occupied t
e central portion of the

continent. They were preeminently plains Indians, ranging from Lake

Michigan to the Rocky mountains, and from the Arkansas to the

Saskatchewan, while an outlying body stretched to the shores of the

Atlantic. They were typical American barbarians, headed by hunters and

warriors and grouped in shifting tribes led by the chase or driven by

battle from place to place over their vast and naturally rich domain,

though a crude agriculture sprang up whenever a tribe tarried long in one

spot. No native stock is more interesting than the great Siouan group, and

none save the Algonquian and Iroquoian approach it in wealth of literary

and historical records; for since the advent of white men the Siouan

Indians have played striking roles on the stage of human development, and

have caught the eye of every thoughtful observer.

The term Siouan is the adjective denoting the Sioux Indians and cognate

tribes. The word Sioux has been variously and vaguely used. Originally

it was a corruption of a term expressing enmity or contempt, applied to a

part of the plains tribes by the forest-dwelling Algonquian Indians.

According to Trumbull, it was the popular appellation of those tribes

which call themselves Dakota, Lakota, or Nakota (Friendly, implying

confederated or allied), and was an abbreviation of Nadowessioux, a

Canadian-French corruption of Nadowe-ssi-wag (the snake-like ones or

enemies), a term rooted in the Algonquian nadowe (a snake); and some

writers have applied the designation to different portions of the stock,

while others have rejected it because of the offensive implication or for

other reasons. So long ago as 1836, however, Gallatin employed the term

Sioux to designate collectively the nations which speak the Sioux

language,(2) and used an alternative term to designate the subordinate

confederacy--i.e., he used the term in a systematic way for the first time

to denote an ethnic unit which experience has shown to be well defined.

Gallatin's terminology was soon after adopted by Prichard and others, and

has been followed by most careful writers on the American Indians.

Accordingly the name must be regarded as established through priority and

prescription, and has been used in the original sense in various standard


In colloquial usage and in the usage of the ephemeral press, the term

Sioux was applied sometimes to one but oftener to several of the allied

tribes embraced in the first of the principal groups of which the stock is

composed, i.e., the group or confederacy styling themselves Dakota.

Sometimes the term was employed in its simple form, but as explorers and

pioneers gained an inkling of the organization of the group, it was often

compounded with the tribal name as Santee-Sioux, Yanktonnai-Sioux,

Sisseton-Sioux, etc. As acquaintance between white men and red

increased, the stock name was gradually displaced by tribe names until the

colloquial appellation Sioux became but a memory or tradition throughout

much of the territory formerly dominated by the great Siouan stock. One of

the reasons for the abandonment of the name was undoubtedly its

inappropriateness as a designation for the confederacy occupying the

plains of the upper Missouri, since it was an alien and opprobrious

designation for a people bearing a euphonious appellation of their own.

Moreover, colloquial usage was gradually influenced by the usage of

scholars, who accepted the native name for the Dakota (spelled Dahcota by

Gallatin) confederacy, as well as the tribal names adopted by Gallatin,

Prichard, and others. Thus the ill-defined term Sioux has dropped out of

use in the substantive form, and is retained, in the adjective form only,

to designate a great stock to which no other collective name, either

intern or alien, has ever been definitely and justly applied.

The earlier students of the Siouan Indians recognized the plains tribes

alone as belonging to that stock, and it has only recently been shown that

certain of the native forest-dwellers long ago encountered by English

colonists on the Atlantic coast were closely akin to the plains Indians in

language, institutions, and beliefs. In 1872 Hale noted a resemblance

between the Tutelo and Dakota languages, and this resemblance was

discussed orally and in correspondence with several students of Indian

languages, but the probability of direct connection seemed so remote that

the affinity was not generally accepted. Even in 1880, after extended

comparison with Dakota material (including that collected by the newly

instituted Bureau of Ethnology), this distinguished investigator was able

to detect only certain general similarities between the Tutelo tongue and

the dialects of the Dakota tribes.(4) In 1881 Gatschet made a collection

of linguistic material among the Catawba Indians of South Carolina, and

was struck with the resemblance of many of the vocables to Siouan terms of

like meaning, and began the preparation of a comparative Catawba-Dakota

vocabulary. To this the Tutelo, cegiha, {~LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED T~}{~LATIN SMALL LETTER OPEN O~}iwe┬┤re, and Hotcangara

(Winnebago) were added by Dorsey, who made a critical examination of all

Catawba material extant and compared it with several Dakota dialects, with

which he was specially conversant. These examinations and comparisons

demonstrated the affinity between the Dakota and Catawba tongues and

showed them to be of common descent; and the establishment of this

relation made easy the acceptance of the affinity suggested by Hale

between the Dakota and Tutelo.

Up to this time it was supposed that the eastern tribes were merely

offshoots of the Dakota; but in 1883 Hale observed that while the

language of these eastern tribes is closely allied to that of the western

Dakota, it bears evidence of being older in form,(5) and consequently

that the Siouan tribes of the interior seem to have migrated westward from

a common fatherland with their eastern brethren bordering the Atlantic.

Subsequently Gatschet discovered that the Biloxi Indians of the Gulf coast

used many terms common to the Siouan tongues; and in 1891 Dorsey visited

these Indians and procured a rich collection of words, phrases, and myths,

whereby the Siouan affinity of these Indians was established. Meantime

Mooney began researches among the Cherokee and cognate tribes of the

southern Atlantic slope and found fresh evidence that their ancient

neighbors were related in tongue and belief with the buffalo hunters of

the plains; and he has recently set forth the relations of the several

Atlantic slope tribes of Siouan affinity in full detail.(6) Through the

addition of these eastern tribes the great Siouan stock is augmented in

extent and range and enhanced in interest; for the records of a group of

cognate tribes are thereby increased so fully as to afford historical

perspective and to indicate, if not clearly to display, the course of

tribal differentiation.

According to Dorsey, whose acquaintance with the Siouan Indians was

especially close, the main portion of the Siouan stock, occupying the

continental interior, comprised seven principal divisions (including the

Biloxi and not distinguishing the Asiniboin), each composed of one or more

tribes or confederacies, all defined and classified by linguistic, social,

and mythologic relations; and he and Mooney recognize several additional

groups, denned by linguistic affinity or historical evidence of intimate

relations, in the eastern part of the country. So far as made out through

the latest researches, the grand divisions, confederacies, and tribes of

the stock,(7) with their present condition, are as follows: