Nebraska: Santee Sioux


The Santee Sioux are part of the Great Sioux Nation, which originally occupied lands that extended from eastern Minnesota to the Big Horn Mountains. The Black Hills of South Dakota sit in the center of the Sioux Nation’s former lands and are sacred to Lakota and Dakota people. The 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty greatly reduced the Great Sioux Nation’s lands. In 1874, General Custer and his 7th Cavalry entered the Black Hills and violated the treaty after finding gold. This discovery precipitated the Gold Rush, which ultimately led to the battle of Little Bighorn. The Sioux refused to sell or lease the Black Hills and continue to maintain that any people living there are violating their treaty. Four bands comprised the Santee division of the Sioux Nation: the Mdewakantonwan, Wahpeton, Sisseton and the Wahpekute. The original Santee were a woodlands tribe, living in semi-permanent villages and engaging in some farming. 

History of the Reservation: The Santee Sioux were initially moved to a site on the Missouri River about 100 miles from Fort Randall. The Homestead Act which provided land for non-Indian settlers was responsible for reducing their original reservation lands by 50 percent. When the Gavins Point Dam was built on the northern portion of the reservation, creating the Lewis and Clark Lake, much of the good river bottom land farmed by the tribe was forever submerged. The community of Fort Thompson, which included schools and a hospital, had to be completely relocated to higher ground. Unfortunately, the schools and hospital have never been rebuilt. Starvation and diseases contracted from White settlers plagued the Sioux during their first three years near Fort Randall. The government moved the Santee again, this time to their current reservation along the Missouri River in 1863, which today encompasses about 9,500 acres (about half the size of Cleveland). 

Life on the Reservation: About 900 people live on the Santee Reservation. Many residents rely primarily on cattle ranching and farming, and about 7% are jobless. Santee is particularly known for its deer, turkey and pheasant hunting. The tribe houses a health center, which features a nutrition center, treatment program, heart health program and social services. The community also includes a casino, convenience store and a few small businesses. 1 in every 3 people live in poverty, and the median annual income for residents is $21,000. Around 730 people are enrolled in the tribe.  

Santee Sioux on the map: North-central Nebraska 




Land Size, History 


Income, Poverty, Joblessnees