History of the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska

Known as the "fontier guardians of the Sioux Nation"> Santee History II

History of the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska

Known as the "fontier guardians of the Sioux Nation," which ranges from Minnesota to the northern Rocky Mountains in Montana and south through the northwestern part of Nebraksa, the Santee division of the Sioux Nation was called the Dakota and consisted of four bands.  In the English language, Dakota translates to mean "allies" or "friends."   The four bands were the Mdewakantonwan, Wahepeton, Sissetonwan and Wahpekute.  A woodland tribe, the Santee lived in semi-permanent villages and engaged in agriculture/farming.  Hunts conducted twice a year.   Around 1660, French explorers were the first Europeans to encounter the Santee Dakota.  Due to forced relocation to the plains, their culture soon resembled that of the nomadic tribes of the west.
The biggest tradegy to befall the Santee was the bloodiest of wars against Indian people in American history, known as the Minnesota Uprising of 1862.  Broken promises by an apathetic federal government left the Santee facing eventual starvation.   Mistrust felt by settlers and the Santee led to isolated outbreaks of violence.   An argument between two young Santee men over the courage to steal eggs from a white farmer became a dare to kill.  This test of courage killed three white men and two women.  Anticipating retalitation by "blue coats", the federal army, the Santee took the offensive, but were soon forced to surrender under the overpowering attack of the U.S. troops.  Because of this short-lived uprising, 38 Santee were mass executed in Mankato, Minnesota, in December of 1862,  This was the largest mass execution in the history of the United States.

In 1863, Congress abrogated all existing treaties between the Santee and the government.  They were exiled to a site in South Dakota called Crow Creek.  Over 300 Santee died during the first months there, mostly from disease and malnutrition.    Recognizing the unfeasiability of making Crow Creek a permanent reservation site, the government settled the Tribe in Northeast Nebraska.

The settlement of the Santee in this region ended their tragic removal from their Minnesota homeland to South Dakota and finally Nebraska in 1866.  Encounters with prejudice and a deceptive government eventually led them to their current home in Nebraska.

The Santee Normal Traning School, established by missionaries in 1870, greatly influenced the devolopment of the tribe during the latter decades of the 19th century.   In 1936 the school closed because of insufficient funding.

Today the Santee Sioux Reservation is located in northeast Nebraska along the Missouri River.   Bordered on the north side by the Lewis and Clark Lake, it encompasses an area approximately 17 miles long and 13 miles wide.

In spite of severe punishment from the U.S. Government and removal of their traditional homelands in 1862, the Santee Sioux Tribe continues to strive toward self-determination through economic development and education.  The village of Santee has various small businesses with the Santee Hay Cubing Plant and tribal ranch among the tribe's leading enterprises.  The Santee Public School District and the Nebraska Indian Community College provide education.


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