Who are the Oglala Sioux?

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  • Written By: L. Jablonsky
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 01 October 2019
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The Oglala Sioux tribe is the largest division of the Teton Sioux. Oglala Native Americans are also known as the Lakota Indians, which means "friend" or "ally" in their dialect. Powerful Oglala chiefs, including Crazy Horse, fought for land in the United States. The Sioux tribe has a tribal council and commemorate their traditions and ancestors today.

Oglala means "to scatter one's own" in the Native American tribe's language. They lived in areas delineated as the Dakota and Minnesota territories in the mid-19th century. Explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark encountered the Oglala Sioux Indians living by the Missouri River in 1806. At the time, they cooperated with the Cheyenne tribe and the settlers in the area. Clashes between the native tribes and the United States government broke out, however, peaking in the late 19th century.

Red Cloud was one of the most well-known chiefs of the Lakota Tribe. He led the assaults preceding the Great Sioux War. After parts of the Lakota tribes were expelled from the Minnesota Territory, Lakota Indians attacked several American forts in the area. As a result, the United States Government and the Lakota tribe signed the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868, which ceded land to the Native American tribe. Red Cloud died in 1909, and his burial site is currently located adjacent to the Read Cloud Indian school located near the Pine Ridge Reservation.


Crazy Horse was another very prominent figure of the Oglala Sioux tribe and an renowned American Indian leader. He fought under Red Cloud's leadership against Americans in Wyoming in the late 1860s. After the United States War Department ordered all Lakota Indians to relocate to the reservations, Crazy Horse fought against General George Crook, who had been advancing on Little Bighorn. Although he put up fierce resistance against several generals, Crazy Horse surrendered on May 6, 1877. The Oglala Sioux chief was killed during a struggle with American soldiers when they attempted to arrest him.

The Oglala Lakota Tribal Council and tribe members discuss political and native issues across nine districts. They sponsor several events, including pow-wows and a Crazy Horse Memorial Ride. The Oglala reservation, which is the second-largest reservation in the United States, is located in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Approximately 120,000 acres (48,562 hectares) of the reservation are located in the Badlands. The reservation houses the Red Cloud Heritage Center, the Wounded Knee Massacre Site, and the Prairie Wind Casino.

The Oglala Sioux tribe has an official tribal flag, which was approved by the Tribal Council in 1961 and adopted on 9 March 1962. The flag of the Oglala tribe depicts nine white teepees arranged in a circle formation on a red background. The nine teepees represent the political districts within the Oglala tribe, including the Wakpamni District, Medicine Root District and Wounded Knee District. The flag also has a blue border, signifying the Oglala's loyalty to the United States of America.


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