We may know a lot about our own tribes, but a lack of interest towards other tribes in other parts of the world is disturbing. Not many would know about the Masai tribe, the Mursi people, or the Himbas. And without knowing about ancestors world over, there will be no understanding of the past, the present, and the future.
In the same light, there is another lesser known tribe — the Sioux, who are a Native American tribe, and First Nations Band Government. They have three main sub-divisions, that of Lakota, the Prairie Dwellers, the Dakota/Santee, and the Nakota/Yankton. Each Indian group is distinguished by its uniqueness. They differ in terms of their surroundings, their lifestyle or their overall way of living.
Each tribe had notable warriors who helped in saving the Sioux clan as best as they could, from the outsiders-invaders. The roles of men and women were clearly defined with the men expected to provide for and defend the family.
Hunting was taken very seriously and infraction of the hunting rules could lead to destruction of a man’s teepee or other property.
After just basic research work, we get to know a lot about this group of people.
- We realize that that each and every member of the Sioux tribe was an animist. Animism is that belief where all natural objects, natural phenomena, and the universe itself possess souls. This meant that the Sioux believed everything which was visible to their eyes had life inside them.
- They honoured and respected everything that they were connected to, be it their food, their cattle, their land or their own selves.
- Being remarkable hunters, the buffalo were, obviously, the Sioux Indians’ main source of food. The Sioux Tribe used the buffalo for many other things and none of the buffalo got wasted. It was thus disturbing when they realized that the Europeans, who came as colonisers, used them as shooting games. Even though they themselves engaged in killing, they never hunted animals for the sake of fun.
- Shelter for the tribes’ people changed with a change in Sioux clan. The Lakota were nomadic buffalo hunters of the plains who only used tipis. The Nakota used both semi-permanent earth lodges like the Mandan, and tipis when out hunting buffalo. The Dakota lived in bark-covered longhouses with pitched roofs, like many of the woodlands tribes.
- Native Americans took the task of making clothing more seriously than European settlers. They used primarily animal hides, which they had to hunt, skin and work the hide to the proper softness before it could be made into a shirt, pants, or warm winter coat. Certain symbols on a dress referred to the woman’s tribe, her marital status, and, for example, the prowess of her husband or father as a hunter or trader.
- All Sioux wore moccasins on their feet that were made from hides and buckskins decorated with beads and quill work.
- In the winter they wore snowshoes when hunting buffalo.
- The number of feathers in the warrior’s war bonnet represented the number of brave acts performed. Men had to earn the right to wear a grizzly bear claw necklace through an act of bravery. Both women and men wore a lot of jewellery made of sea shells, metal, and beads. The men wore necklaces and sometimes arm bands. The women wore earrings and bracelets.
Being from a completely different culture, with a completely different dressing style, housing patterns and appearance, the natives were often under the spotlight which portrayed them as ‘savages’. The typical image formed of a native man would be of him with an animal-print cloth wrapped around his waist, a fancy headgear with a bunch of feathers, atop a horse, probably chasing an animal – often leading to them being shown as hilarious, and laughter-inducing characters.
But the natives are neither savage nor comical – it is time for us to see them as people who have left behind a rich history that is yet to be appreciated.
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.