Sioux Native Americans - Government Illustration

How did the
Sioux people
govern themselves?
Native Americans
in Olden Times for Kids

Seven large tribes made up the Sioux Nation - Wdewakanton, Sisseton, Teton, Wahpekute, Wahpeton, Yankton, and Yanktonai.

Village Councils: Each village had a village council. Each village council selected a chief. A chief served for life. In olden times, women had no say in government.

  • All the adult men in a village were members of the Village Council.

  • The Village Council was divided into parts. Within the Council, men broke up into smaller groups. Each group had a job to do. One group might be in charge of law and order. Another might be in charge of village festivals.

  • The Council elected a chief.

  • Once a chief was elected, the chief assigned each group a responsibility. One year, the chief might assign one group the job of making sure people obeyed the laws of the tribe. The next year, the chief would assign that job to a different group. This made sure that no one group became more powerful than another.

Tribal Councils: Tribes were made up of several villages. Each tribe had a tribal council. Each tribe had a chief. Again, jobs were assigned to smaller groups within the council. This made sure that no one group took dominance in the decisions of the tribal council.

Seven Fires Council: The Seven Fires Council was the top governing group. This Council made decisions for the entire Sioux Nation. The Seven Fires Council was composed of all seven tribal chiefs, one from each of the seven tribes. Chiefs brought helpers with them, but the actual "seat" at the council was reserved for chiefs only.

Today: Today, the Sioux live on reservations. They have reservation governments. Each reservation has its own Tribal Council. The council chairperson has a similar job as did the Sioux chiefs in olden times. Like the Sioux tribal chiefs did once, the chairperson - he or she - helps make decisions for all the Sioux people.

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