Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribe

Mailing Address

South Dakota



Cultural History

The Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribes are sub-divisions tribes that emerged from the Santee Dakota tribes who live near the Lake Traverse Reservation in South Dakota. There are currently 12,000 members enrolled in the tribe located among some of the seven districts transversely found in the reservation. In 2004, there were said to be 9,894 tribesmen in the reservation. The seven districts of the tribes are the Old Agency whose native name is the Ateyapiotitanni, the Lake Traverse also known as the Bdehadkinyan, the Buffalo Lake or Canowanasapi, the Veblen or Heiipa, the Big Coulee also known as Iyakaptapi, the Long Hollow whose native name is Kaksizahanska, and finally, the Enemy Swim also known as the Tokaniweyapi.

In 1851, most specifically on the 23rd of July, the Treaty of the Traverse de Sioux was established. The said treaty was designed and approved by then territorial governor Alexander Ramsey. The treaty was about obtaining rich and agricultural lands in Minnesota. A monetary amount of $1,665,000 in cash, annuities and reservations were handed to the tribesmen. The reservations were to be found at the Upper Agency near Granite Falls, Minnesota and at the Lower Agency near Redwood Falls. It stretches from 20 miles in width and 70 miles in length. Another proviso of the treaty was to allocate $400,000 of the annuities to mixed bloods and traders who then had claims against the Indians. During 1858, the tribesmen leaders signed two more treaties in Washington D.C to cede the reservation north of Minnesota River. The Indian Wars then started because of the failure to compromise with the signed treaties.

So in August, 1862, the combat started with the Santee bands prevailing. The war is now known as the Dakota War of 1862. The Sisseton and Wahpeton bands were able to gather supplies to last them throughout the war except when in the 17th century when the Mdewakanton and Wahpekute bands were denied because Minnesota State Senator Thomas Galbraith refused to give them supplies without making them pay. The indifference of the government officials toward the tribes caused them to breakaway into their own revolution. 

Dakota were severely punished for the war that led its 303 men to conviction. Similarly, 38 of these men were hung on the 26th which is now considered as the largest mass execution ever in the American history. There were several efforts to urge the Dakota to leave Minnesota, all of which failed. The efforts led to the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890.

Nowadays, the tribe has finally found its niche in the 106,153 acres of land in the Former Lake Traverse, in several parts of Marshall, Day, Codington, Grant and Roberts Counties. They have their own Dakota Sioux Casino who employ most of their members as well as the tribal government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

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