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The Canadian Sioux, Second Edition

The Canadian Sioux, Second Edition

Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 2
Pages: 232
Stable URL:
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  • Book Info
    The Canadian Sioux, Second Edition
    Book Description:

    The Canadian Sioux are descendants of Santees, Yanktonais, and Tetons from the United States who sought refuge in Canada during the 1860s and 1870s. Living today on eight reserves in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, they are the least studied of all the Sioux groups. This book, originally published in 1984, helps fill that gap in the literature and remains relevant even in the twenty-first century.

    Based on Howard's fieldwork in the 1970s and supplemented by written sources,The Canadian Sioux, Second Editiondescriptively reconstructs their traditional culture, many aspects of which are still practiced or remembered by Canadian Sioux although long forgotten by their relatives in the United States. Rich in detail, it presents an abundance of information on topics such as tribal divisions, documented history and traditional history, warfare, economy, social life, philosophy and religion, and ceremonialism. Nearly half the book is devoted to Canadian Sioux religion and describes such ceremonies as the Vision Quest, the Medicine Feast, the Medicine Dance, the Sun Dance, warrior society dances, and the Ghost Dance.

    This second edition includes previously unpublished images, many of them photographed by Howard, and some of his original drawings.

    eISBN: 978-0-8032-7378-8
    Subjects: Sociology, History, Religion
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Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations (pp. vii-viii)
  4. FOREWORD (pp. ix-xii)

    Among anthropologists who have studied the cultures and societies of the Plains Indians, none can match the breadth and diversity of field studies of the late James H. Howard. A native of South Dakota, Howard’s interest in the Plains Indians developed during boyhood. He turned to anthropology as the profession that could provide him with a framework through which to interpret American Indians. After receiving his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Michigan in 1957, he taught successively at the University of North Dakota, the University of South Dakota, and Oklahoma State University. Howard devoted the entirety of his...

    Raymond J. DeMallie and Douglas R. Parks

    The publication of James H. Howard’sThe Canadian Siouxalmost thirty years ago served to fill a significant gap in the anthropological literature on the Plains Indians. The field study by Wilson D. Wallis in 1914 had resulted in important ethnographic publications (see Howard’s bibliography), but little work had been undertaken subsequently. In 1951–52 Wallis and his wife, Ruth Sawtell Wallis, worked at Sioux Village and Oak River Reserves, but only brief articles were published (Wallis and Wallis 1953; R. S. Wallis 1954, 1955). Alice Beck Kehoe carried out fieldwork for her 1964 dissertation on the Ghost Dance religion...

  6. PREFACE (pp. xxiii-xxviii)

    Before embarking upon the description of Canadian Sioux culture during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as in the present, it is important to review their ancestral culture as it existed before their flight to Canada. In this I will draw heavily on earlier papers (Howard 1960a, 1966a, 1979, 1980).

    Although the Sioux have been known to scholars for more than three hundred years, surprisingly little has been done to collect origin legends and traditional histories from the various divisions of the tribe. Williamson (1851:247) states that the Sioux claimed to have resided near the confluence of...

  8. 2 TRIBAL DIVISIONS (pp. 12-20)

    Most Canadian Sioux are descendants of refugees from the Minnesota Uprising and belong to the four Santee bands. In addition there are a few Yanktonais on the Birdtail and Oak Lake Reserves and the majority of the Sioux at Wood Mountain are descended from the Hunkpapa sub-band of the Tetons. In their homeland, each of the four Santee bands was divided into sub-bands, as were the Yanktons, Yanktonais, and Tetons. Most adult Canadian Santees today are still able to give their band affiliation (whether Mdewakanton, Wahpekute, Sisseton, or Wahpeton), but sub-band identities have become blurred or completely forgotten. In fact,...

  9. 3 THE SIOUX IN CANADA (pp. 21-29)

    In this chapter I will trace briefly the history of the Sioux since their arrival in Canada and suggest how some of the changes so apparent in present-day Canadian Sioux culture have come about. In this historical review I rely heavily on Laviolette (1944) and Meyer (1967, 1968).

    Of the approximately 6,300 Eastern Sioux who had lived in Minnesota and adjacent portions of North and South Dakota, Iowa, and Wisconsin prior to the Uprising of 1862, fewer than 2,000 were accounted for at the end of the hostilities. Some eight hundred Mdewakantons and Wahpekutes and nearly all of the Sissetons...

  10. 4 TRADITIONAL HISTORY (pp. 30-44)

    The mythologies and folktales of a people often reveal many things about that group not intended by the story teller. As E. B. Tylor, the eminent nineteenth-century British anthropologist remarked, “Were nothing to be had out of ancient poetry except distorted memories of historical events, the anthropologist might be wise to set it aside altogether. Yet, looked at from another point of view, it is one of his most perfect and exact sources of knowledge” (Tylor 1930:113). What Tylor refers to is the inclusion in myths and legends of bits of detail telling us not only of former customs, long...

  11. 5 WARFARE (pp. 45-51)

    After moving to Canada, the Sioux fought briefly with the Plains Ojibwas. Probably during those early years the formal war organization, including the war chief and soldier lodge, was activated as it had been during earlier times in Minnesota. But the imposition of peace among the tribes by the Canadian government made warfare a part of the Sioux past rather than an ongoing aspect of their lives. Still, Canadian Sioux today recall traditions relating to warfare.

    According to Robert Good Voice, before going off on an expedition the warriors would dance theŠuŋkáȟ Wachípi‘Dog Imitators Dance’. In this dance...

  12. 6 ECONOMY (pp. 52-71)

    In their new situation in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the Santees no longer had access to many food sources available in their Minnesota homeland. Lakes with wild rice were scarce, and the unsettled conditions following their exodus from the United States resulted in the near abandonment of gardening by the Sioux. On the other hand, hunting, fishing, and gathering wild plants were still possible. Gifts of food from white settlers at Fort Garry helped to sustain the first arrivals. The contacts that they had had with whites in their homeland stood the Santees in good stead when they arrived on Canadian...

  13. 7 SOCIAL LIFE (pp. 72-93)

    The Sioux infant was ushered into the world with the assistance of a midwife, generally a female relative of the mother. This woman cut and tied the umbilical cord and wiped the baby dry. Should the mother experience difficulty in bearing the child, the midwife might administer an herb decoction to the mother. George Bear (Birdtail) said that his father possessed such a “midwife herb.” This plant was dried, ground up, and mixed with rattlesnake fat. It made the unborn child afraid, causing it to come out of the mother’s womb. Scaring the baby out of the womb was also...

  14. 8 PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION (pp. 94-114)

    A great amount of traditional philosophy and world view has survived among the Canadian Sioux, and concepts that have become forgotten or attenuated among their relatives in the United States are still vital in Canada. It is true, of course, that not every adult Sioux can easily explain the various aspects of traditional religion and philosophy. I doubt that this was ever the case. Among those Sioux who are of a reflective nature, however, the tribal intellectuals, I found a remarkable agreement.

    Sioux philosophy might be briefly characterized as follows. The world was made byWakháŋ Tháŋka(‘Great Spirit’, God)...


    The Canadian Sioux possessed a rich and varied ceremonial life. For descriptive purposes it is convenient to separate these religious and ceremonial activities into two groupings. The first includes those activities that the Santees share with Woodland tribes. These include the Vision Quest, Prayer Feast, Medicine Feast, Adoption ceremony, and Medicine Dance. The second grouping consists of ceremonies shared by the Santees with High Plains groups. These include the Sun Dance, Grass Dance and associated dances such as the Warbonnet Dance,Heyókhaor Clown cult, Horse Dance, various warrior society dances, Scalp Dance, Ghost Dance and its derivatives, and the...


    Those ceremonials of the Canadian Sioux that they shared with Prairie and High Plains tribes include the Sun Dance, Grass Dance and associated dances,Heyókhaor Clown cult, Horse Dance, various warrior society dances, Scalp Dance, Ghost Dance, and Peyote religion. The Vision Quest, described in the previous chapter, was practiced by both Woodland and Plains groups, as was the Scalp Dance, although the Canadian Sioux form of the latter seems to share more traits with the Plains than with Woodland forms of the dance.

    The Sun Dance, as of 1972, was no longer practiced by the Canadian Sioux as...

  17. 11 THE CANADIAN SIOUX TODAY (pp. 171-178)

    When one has visited Sioux communities in both the United States and Canada, a comparison of the condition of the two parts of the tribe, now citizens of separate nations, is inevitable. In such a comparison I would unhesitatingly state that the Canadian Sioux, on the whole, seem to have fared the better. Canadian Sioux homes tend to be better constructed and maintained than their counterparts south of the border, and their inhabitants, if not better off economically, certainly demonstrate a more positive attitude toward their government and the white world in general. The endless complaints about the Bureau of...

  18. APPENDIX: LIST OF INFORMANTS (pp. 179-180)
  19. BIBLIOGRAPHY (pp. 181-184)
  20. INDEX (pp. 185-195)
  21. Back Matter (pp. 196-197)