Native Americans Dakota and Lakota People the Essay

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Native Americans

Dakota and Lakota people

The word 'Dakota' is derived from the seven council fires (Oceti Sakowin) - or in other words, the main political units for the people of Dakota. The word means "ally" also referred to as "Sioux" at times. Historically, the Sisseton, Wahpekute, Wahpeton, and Mdewakanton constituted of western Yankton and Yanktonai who were together referred to as Nakota and the Teton and Eastern Dakota. The Santee Dakota family had their land in the western and central parts of what later came to be Minnesota, during the early 1800s. In the same period, the western Dakota people were living mainly in what is presently known as South and North Dakota (Nabokov, 2010).

The Lakota and the Dakota prophesized and envisioned the ghost dance which began in their minds. As a vision, the leader of the dance passed away before enacting the vision. People believed that this was a special dance sent by God to share the message of peace. The Lakota and the Dakota had much belief in the dance as a source of peace and unification among the tribes. This dance had a primary theme of becoming friendly to the whites and spreading their message across the Lakota and the Dakota people. The people learnt to dance the ghost dance. Both men and women dragged their feet side-by-side singing religious songs around a fire (Nabokov, 2010).

The Lakota and the Dakota people clung onto the ghost dance believing it was their last source of hope for revival. This was at a crucial time, when the ruling government required these people to shift to reservations. Through the ghost dance, this population combined their religious beliefs, moral ideas, and rituals into one ceremony. Through this dance, they believed in family reunion and resurrection of people who died. Their leaders created attires for this dance to protect the Lakota and the Dakota from the bullets of the white man. They viewed this dance as the better religion ever had. In this context, these people knew this religion would unite them with their white neighbors and prepare the tribes for their final Christianization. They bragged about this dance as a strategy to assimilate themselves in the culture of the white while at the same time preserving their native values (Brown, 2006).

Evidently, Lakota and the Dakota people did not live in one village as they moved and changed their work in accordance with the seasons. During the winters, they spent their lives near the stores of supplies that they constructed the year before. The work of women was making clothes, processing hides and collecting wood while the duties of men were fishing and hunting. During the spring season, the villages separated, and men had to leave their hunting parties as women and children resorted to cultivation of crops such as beans, squash, and corn. The families changed to gathering wild rice from the riverbanks after finishing the harvest of this corn. During the autumn season, families moved to their chosen hunting ground for the year for an annual hunting. This traditional culture of communal livelihood was the foundation of Dakota culture and society that changed immediately after the contact they had made with the Europeans in the mid-1960 (Sutton, 2009).

According to tradition, the divinity of Dakota people was passed through oral tradition. Eastman Charles (Ohiyesa) who was a Santee Dakota wrote that the spirituality of the Dakota was surrounded by the oneness and the unity of the world; everything in the world had been modeled from the single universal force that was known as 'Wakan' (the Great Mystery). Later on, the missionaries persuaded the Dakota to leave their traditional beliefs and follow Christianity, as it was the only true way of life. According to history, the day-to-day life of the Dakota people was on survival basis. The Dakota people pooled their forces on collective activities such as provision of communal defense, processing animal skin for shelter and clothing, cultivation of crops, hunting, and gathering. This was very significant because the conflicts were bound to occur with other communities, unsubstantiated food sources and the harsh climate. Kinships formation occurred through close bonds between the communities. It was maintained through the exchange of gifts, which included tools, food, clothing, and other useful items (Nabokov, 2010).

These customs and lifestyles continued until the time when gold was discovered in California in 1849. The United States government regarded the west as a permanent Indian frontier a land inhospitable with limited or no economic value. During the early, 1850s, the overland travelers who were heading to the gold fields started to make their way across the Lakota territory. Nevertheless, the mineral wealth discovery in the West made the United States extend its territories in the Pacific Ocean (Sutton, 2009).

How the attitudes of early historians, explorers, and colonialists towards Native Americans were distortions of realities

Before the wake of the civil war, the explorers and colonialists appeared to be more lenient with the Lakota and the Dakota tribes. However, immediately after the people started to move towards the West and the beginning of cattle ranching, they viewed these tribes as an obstacle. For instance, after the discovery of Gold in Sioux and Black Hills, the whites decided not to sell the land. Those in the West dreamt that the Lakota and the Dakota people would be utterly destroyed believing the U.S. army must deal with the situation. The West created negotiations with the natives and realized the best was to convert them into Christian farmers who were civilized (Nabokov, 2010).

Many people moved away from the towns and cities and resorted to the plains when the American population was growing tremendously. At first, the Indians saw it best to welcome the settlers because they knew the land was supposed to be shared. Nevertheless, as they progressed, things started to change for the worse. The Americans were not familiar with horses as they were brought in by settlers from Europe. During the 18th century, many of the Indian countries possessed horses. Their horse ownership allowed them to haul to the plains and hunt for buffaloes easily (Nabokov, 2010).

Various ethnic groups left the practice of farming and opted for buffalo hunting for all their personal needs. Nomadism was their way of life as they moved in the direction of the plains following the buffaloes. Both the Indians and the whites were hunting for buffaloes and so there was not enough for the Indians. Another thing was that the whites took the land that the Indians were using. This was not all as the whites carried along with them, disease and they infected the Indians. Simple diseases such as a cold could even cause the demise of some Indians. The plains were occupied with more than thirty different ethnic groups. The tribes had their private land. Although war could erupt at times, peace still prevailed (Brown, 2006).

The Dakota people pooled their forces on collective activities such as provision of communal defense, processing animal skin for shelter and clothing, cultivation of crops, hunting, and gathering. This was very significant because the conflicts were bound to occur with other communities, unsubstantiated food sources and the harsh climate. Kinships formation occurred through close bonds between the communities. It was maintained through the exchange of gifts, which included tools, food, clothing, and other useful items (Nabokov, 2010).

Kinship was the basic social structure of the tradition of the Dakota people and with it were the norms and behaviors that were to be practiced by all members of the society. For individuals to qualify as staunch Dakota, they had to possess some quality of generosity and relate well with all people. New members were initiated into the community through ceremonies in which the kinship obligations were to be followed by individuals with finality. The governance of the community was established through an agreement from all the parties concerned to have their voices heard. These kinship networks were to be used by European-American and American fur traders and later on by the government of the United States develop political relationships and encourage trade with the Dakota communities in the early 1800s (Brown, 2006).

Settlers used to travel in wagons as they sought new places to live and gold across the plain. They did their best to see the Indians leave the land. This left the Indians with only one choice of fighting back. The missionaries in the plain tried to make the Indians change their religion to Christianity as they saw the Indians as superstitious barbarians. This was distortion from reality. The whites were selfish; they had the belief that their lifestyle was the only true way to live life. The whites also saw the culture of the Indians as inferior because it differed with theirs. The Indians were not able to build houses that were proper; this made the whites see them as less intelligent. They wanted to teach the Indians English as they saw this as a very…[continue]

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