What Type of Life Did Sioux Indians Live?

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What Type of Life Did Sioux Indians Live?
The Sioux Indians lived nomadic lives and occupied various regions of precolonial North America. (Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

The Sioux Indians were one of the first Native American nations to inhabit North America. Seven tribes comprised the Sioux: The Wdewakanton, Teton, Sisseton, Wahpekute, Yankton, Wahpeton and Yanktonai. Each tribe bargained with one another in trade, honoured the same rules and adopted similar customs. The Sioux are differentiated from other Native American nations by the societal and cultural norms that made up their way of life.

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Government

The Seven Fires Council was the head of the Sioux governmental system: It consisted of the chiefs of each of the seven tribes and their helpers. The Seven Fires Council made decisions that affected every tribe of the Sioux nation. Tribal councils were composed of several villages, which were further broken down into village councils. Every adult male was a member of the village council, and village and tribal chiefs were elected by council members. Once a chief was selected he retained his rank for life. Chiefs assigned important community roles to groups within the council and reassigned new roles each year to prevent power imbalances. Sioux women were not permitted to become council members.

Societal Roles

Each Sioux Indian was assigned a position in the village based on what he did best. Some men were warriors, while others became recorders who painted pictures to depict battles and important events. Others became hunters, storytellers and comedians, and each Sioux village required one shaman. Women were responsible for the camp grounds, children, chores, cooking and food gathering. Sioux women also created craft items, baskets, clothing, bedding and decorative quilts.

Home & Location

The Sioux followed the grazing paths of buffalo and travelled extensively in order to hunt them. The Sioux learnt to tame and ride horses after Spanish settlers introduced them to North America. Horses were harnessed to large sticks stretched with buffalo hide; the cart-like structures were used to transport goods and supplies during travel. Sioux Indians resided in conical structures that consisted of poles and buffalo hides, called tepees. Tepee poles generally stood 15 feet high, and a single tepee could house 30 to 40 people at a time. Waterproof buffalo hides stretched over wooden frames provided warmth in the winter and an escape from the heat during summer. Each tepee had a flap for entry and a small opening at the top for ventilation. Many tepees contained fire pits in their centres for cooking. Tepees made relocating easy: An entire village could be moved within one hour, according to Orrin's Website.

Beliefs

Sioux Indians regarded every life form as sacred and believed that all living things contained spirits. Spirit worship was a part of daily life. The Sioux Indians attempted communication with the spirits through visions and dreams, and each year various spirit festivals were held. The buffalo was considered a gift from the Great Spirit, the most powerful Sioux deity. Buffalo were revered by the Sioux Indians: They used them for food, clothing, tools, utensils, musical instruments, bedding and decorative items. Every animal part was pointedly utilised so that it would not go to waste.

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