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Sioux

Sioux, important confederacy of Native American tribes of the Siouan language
family and of the Plains culture area. The Ojibwa word for the group, rendered
into French by early explorers and traders as Nadouessioux, was shortened to
Sioux and passed into English. The Sioux generally call themselves Lakota or
Dakota, meaning "allies." The seven tribes fall into three major divisions: the
sedentary and agricultural Santee; the Nakota; and the warrior and
buffalo-hunter Teton.

In the 17th century the Sioux comprised small bands of Woodland peoples in the
Mille Lacs region of present-day Minnesota. They lived on small game, deer, and
wild rice, and were surrounded by large rival tribes. Conflict with their enemy,
the Ojibwa people, forced the Sioux to move to the buffalo ranges of the Great
Plains. As they became adept buffalo hunters, the tribes grew and prospered. By
1750 the Sioux comprised some 30,000 people firmly established in the heartland
of the northern Great Plains. They dominated this region for the next century.