seven council fires

Alternatives to ‘Sioux’

As you may know, the word ‘Sioux’ is considered to be a slur amongst members of the Oceti Sakowin. It is not our word for ourselves, but rather a name given to us by another nation and perpetuated by the Europeans / Euro-Americans.

You also may have noticed that our official tribe names often contain the word ‘Sioux’ (‘Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe’ for example.) The reason for this is entirely legal. When our treaties were drafted, they were written as an agreement between the US Government and the ‘Sioux Nation.’ For this reason, we cannot fully abandon the name. However, when we’ve had opportunities, we’ve dropped the name in places we can (’Oglala Lakota County,’ for example, a name chosen by the rezidents.)

Simply put, members of the Oceti Sakowin generally don’t refer to themselves as ‘Sioux’ and, if we can’t change it legally, at least we can continue to assert our identity on our terms. So, if you choose to respect that, here’s a quick Oceti Sakowin education guide:

Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires) 

Oceti Sakowin (encompasses all language dialects) is the simplest and broadest replacement for ‘Sioux.’ You can use this term if you aren’t aware of the specific language group to which ‘Sioux’ refers. Within the Oceti Sakowin are three main groups, which are further divided into seven subgroups:

Isanti Oyate (Santee — Dakota Dialect)

  • Ble Wakantunwan (Mdewakanton*) - Spirit Lake
  • Wahpetunwan (Wahpeton) - Leaf Village
  • Wahpe Kute Tunwan (Wahpekute) - Leaf Archers
  • Sinsin Tunwan (Sisseton) - Swamp Village

Wiciyela Oyate (Yankton/Yanktonais — Dakota Dialect ; commonly mislabeled as Nakota* Dialect)

  • Ihanktunwan - End of Horn Village
  • Ihanktunwanna - Little End of Horn Village

Tinte Oyate (Tetons — Lakota Dialect)

  • Tinte Ta Tunwan (Tintatunwan Oceti Sakowin) - Plains Nation

Within the Tinte Ta Tunwan / Tintatunwan Oceti Sakown (#7), there are another seven subdivisions:

Tintatunwan Oceti Sakowin - Lakota

  • Oglala - Scatters Their Own (Pine Ridge Indian Reservation)
  • Sicangu - Burnt Thighs (Rosebud Reservation, Lower Brule Reservation)
  • Hwohwoju (Mnikiwoju/Mniconjou) - Swamp Plant  (Cheyenne River Reservation)
  • Itazipcola (Itazipco) - No Bow  (Cheyenne River Reservation)
  • Owohe Nunpa (Oohenunpa) - Two Paunch Boiler (Cheyenne River Reservation)
  • Sihasapa - Black Feet (Cheyenne River Reservation, Standing Rock Reservation)
  • Hunkpapa - End of Horn (Standing Rock Reservation)


*modern terminology
*In the past, the term Nakota has been applied to the Yankton, but this is a mistake. The Yankton speak Dakota. Nakota speakers are Assiniboine / Hohe and Stoney, who broke off from the Yankton at a time so long ago their language is now nearly unrecognizable to Lakota and Dakota speakers.

Today is Thanksgiving, a day on which we remember an almost entirely fictional encounter between the settler-colonists in Massachusetts and the local Wampanoag people. While the details of the Thanksgiving story are largely mythical, it is true that the settler-colonists would have died without the aid of the Wampagoag in those first few years. If we go to the heart of the story we’re remembering a moment where Native people helped non-Native people survive.
Now it’s our turn.
You’ve probably heard about the Water Protectors in North Dakota, trying with all their might and main to stop an oil pipeline crossing the Oglala Aquifier and going beneath the Missouri River. Millions of people downriver of the crossing depend on the Missouri for their drinking water - the Lakota at Standing Rock reservation would be the first and most drastically hit. The protectors have a phrase: Mni Wiconi - Water is Life. They are standing between the company and the river for all of us.
There are thousands gathered at the three camps that make up the Water Protector presence. Local law enforcement has violently tried to disperse the camps - they have attacked Protectors with rubber bullets, sound canons, concussion grenades, and high-pressure hoses. The Water Protectors have done nothing wrong. The land on which the pipeline is to be built belongs to them - the Supreme Court upheld it as such in 1980 when it agreed with the Lakota that the U.S. government had broken the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, which promised the Oceti Sakowin (the seven council fires of the Lakota) the Black Hills region forever.
On Sunday night, after dark, when temperatures were at 27F, local law enforcement attacked one of the camps. A concussion grenade exploded on one female protector’s arm - she was flown to Minneapolis, and it looks like her arm may have to be amputated. An elder went into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated by camp healers. 26 people were injured badly enough to be taken to hospital. Many hundreds more were hurt.
Local law enforcement is knowingly risking killing people. You don’t spray people with high pressure water hoses when the temperature is below freezing because you want them to back off; you do it because you want to cause hypothermia. Amnesty International has decried the attack as an attack on human rights, and has appealed to local law enforcement to stop these tactics. The United Nations has condemned what’s going on. Oh, and Protectors are being arrested for “rioting.” Mmmhmm.
Once again, Native people stand between non-Native people and catastrophe, and this time we have to do more than be passively grateful. This Thanksgiving, could you pass the hat at your dinner table for money to send directly to the camps? If you raise $5, and everyone did it, that would be an enormous influx of resources. Those resources would enable camp leaders to buy the supplies that are most needed - medical equipment (local law enforcement road blocks make getting anyone out of the camps by ambulance very tricky); below-zero-grade sleeping bags; camp heaters; winter-ready tents etc., as well as provide legal counsel to those who have been arrested.
You can donate here:
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
Attention: Donations
PO Box D
Building #1
North Standing Rock Avenue
Fort Yates, ND 58538

phantomalchemy  asked:

I saw that post about a slur, and I was wondering if you would mind explaining what it is. I've never heard it. However, if in any way you find that this is too draining or difficult, I totally understand. My curiosity should not be at the cost of your good time. Have a great day!

First of all, thank you for asking so politely. I appreciate when people remember they aren’t entitled to certain information, which has unfortunately been a trend in my asks lately.

The proper term is “Oceti Sakowin,” which means Seven Council Fires. This refers to the seven main bands, and it is how we refer to ourselves. “Sioux” comes from the Anishinabe word “nadouessioux,” meaning snakes. They were our enemies at the time, and it was an insulting term which referenced us as a threat/enemy. The French shortened this to “Sioux.”

More important than the literal meaning is the politics behind it. There is power in words, and our name is our power. The colonizers stripped that power away when they said, “No, you’re not who you say you are. You’re who *we* say you are.” They gave us a name from our enemies, and they bastardized even that. 

This even extends to the names of local sacred sites–when the names we gave sites are replaced, it erases our history from the area. In my opinion, it’s absolutely a matter of sovereignty and self-empowerment to be able to call ourselves by our own name. We get to make that decision, and no one else.

anonymous asked:

sorry if i sound bitter or ignorant but as a south asian i really get irritated when native americans are referred to as "indian american", i just feel like it sounds outdated. the only reason they're called that is because in the past they assumed any brown person was indian. that gets to me, i'm not indian but my brown skin makes everyone assume... :/

“Indian American” never refers to Indigenous Peoples, it only refers to Americans of Indian (from India) descent. The other way around though, “American Indian” refers to Indigenous Peoples–specifically Peoples Indigenous to the continental United States (where Indigenous Hawaiians are usually referred to as Native Hawaiians and Indigenous Alaskans as Alaskan Natives) though people in the US frequently use “Native American” or “American Indian” to refer to all Indigenous North Americans (not usually Indigenous South Americans for some reason)

It’s a long held frustration about the terminology “Indian” not just for Indigenous Peoples, but obviously for people from India. Largely, except in a colloquial sense (like with “NDN”), we (Indigenous Peoples) are mostly moving away from that as a group but that’s a relatively recent trend and pretty much “Indian” was the standard terminology from about the late 90s and anything earlier than that which is why we have things like the American Indian College Fund, the American Indian Movement, American Indian Scouting Association, American Indian Library Association, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and so many others

It’s obviously not a “correct” term and frequently when the argument is brought up, we all have a good venting session on what an idiot that genocidal asshole Columbus was for calling Indigenous Americans “Indians” but I think what people continuously fail to realize in this argument is that Native Peoples are still usually erroneously termed even when we’re not being referred to as Indians

Hardly any of our Nations are called by the name we call ourselves. “Sioux” is a Canadian-French bastardized and abbreviated form of an Odawa name for the Nation who called themselves Seven Council Fires. “Cherokee” is a debated term that may have come from the Choctaw or Creek language but they called themselves the Aniyuwiya. My own Nation, the Blackfeet Nation, is actually one of four bands belonging to the greater Blackfoot Confederacy and in our language, my band is Amsskaapipikani, or Southern Piegan–and the Kainai Nation in Canada which is part of the Confederacy are called the Blood Nation in English even though Kainai means Many Chiefs but they were given the English name Blood after a Plains Cree term. We don’t even call ourselves Blackfoot in Blackfoot. Siksika refers specifically to another band of the Confederacy; we call ourselves Niitsitapi, “the Real People” 

I mean, what I’m getting at here is that the issue surrounding the names Indigenous People use/have been given (usually through force) is a lot more complicated and extensive than just “we’re not from India so we’re not Indians” because yeah, that’s absolutely true and honestly why I told the previous anon to use a Nations name where possible–especially their name for themselves–and to use terms like Indigenous American but it’s going to take a lot and a long time to get people to support the decolonization of the language used to refer to Indigenous Peoples in the Americas

Not that I’m saying that it’s not worth the effort because hopefully it’s obvious that I very much believe this is important, but I am saying that the issue itself is more nuanced than it seems on the surface and it’s definitely going to take as many people as possible to not only point out when people are using incorrect terms, but to give them the right vocabulary to work with
–Coyote