Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe of South Dakota


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The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe of South Dakota is a federally recognized tribe of Santee Dakota people. Their reservation is the Flandreau Indian Reservation. The tribe are members of the Mdewakantonwan people, one of the sub-tribes of the Isanti (Santee) Dakota originally from central Minnesota.

Official Tribal Name:  Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe of South Dakota

Address:  PO Box 283, Flandreau, SD 57028-0283
Phone:   (605) 997-3891
Fax:  (605) 997-3878
Email: Contact Form

Official Website: http://fsst.org/ 

Recognition Status:  Federally Recognized

Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning:

The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe is comprised primarily of descendents of “Mdewakantonwan”, a band of the Isanti division of the Great Sioux Nation, and refer to themselves as Dakota, which is commonly reported to mean “friend or ally.” This is actually incorrect. The real definition of Dakota/Nakota/Lakota is “those who consider themselves kindred.” See this detailed explanation of Sioux Names and the Sioux Nation.

Common Name: Santee Sioux 

Alternate names:

Sioux – The United States government took the word Sioux from (Nadowesioux), which comes  from a Chippewa (Ojibway) word which means little snake or enemy. The French  traders and trappers who worked with the Chippewa( Ojibway) people shortened the word to Sioux. The term Sioux can refer to any ethnic group within the Great Sioux Nation or any of the nation’s many language dialects.

Alternate spellings / Mispellings:

Region:  Great Plains 

State(s) Today:  South Dakota

Traditional Territory:

At one time, The Great Dakota Nation extended from the Big Horn Mountains in the West to the west side of Wisconsin in the East. The Dakota inhabited the eastern part of the Nation in what is now Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

At European contact, the Dakota lived in Minnesota and Wisconsin. After many years of semi-nomadic existance, and due to pressure from white settlers, the Santee ceded their land and entered a reservation in 1851.

Confederacy:  Sioux Nation 


1805, 1851, 1858, 1863, and 1868 treaties with the U.S. government. 

Reservation:  Flandreau Reservation

The Flandreau Santee Sioux Indian Reservation is 5,000 acres of combined trust and fee tribal land located along and near the Big Sioux River in Moody County, South Dakota, in a region know as the Prairie Coteau, which consists primarily of undulating or gently rolling land.

The Flandreau Santee Sioux Reservation is located near Pipestone National Monument, the source of the stone used to make the sacred pipe for prayer, healing and ceremonies. This is a sacred site to all the Dakota Nation as it is the blood of our people remaining after a great flood at the change of one of the ages of Mother Earth. The area is protected from unauthorized removal of pipestone and desecration by the Tribal and the federal governments.

The Flandreau Santee Sioux Reservation is located in the southeastern region of the state and borders the State of Minnesota on the east. The reservation is located in a region of South Dakota known as the Prairie Coteau, consisting primarily of undulating or gently rolling land. The Big Sioux River flows through the center of the area.

The headquarters of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe is adjacent to the community of Flandreau in Moody County, South Dakota. The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe maintains the right and responsibility to provide environmental authority in compliance with tribal and Federal law for protection of the land and resources within the exterior boundaries of the reservation through code development and regulatory mechanisms. The maintenance and protection of the land is very important to the Dakota people for future generations.

Land Area:  5,000 acres
Tribal Headquarters: Flandreau, SD  
Time Zone:  Central

Population at Contact:

Registered Population Today:

Tribal Enrollment Requirements:

Genealogy Resources:


The Tribe claims jurisdiction over all right-of-way, waterways, watercourses and streams running through any part of the reservation and to such others lands as may hereafter be added to the reservation under the laws of the United States.

Charter:  In 1934, the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe was formally organized and recognized under the authority of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.
Name of Governing Body:   Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribal Council
Number of Council members:   4 additional Trustees who are elected by the tribal members.
Dates of Constitutional amendments: October 16, 1967, November 14, 1984, May 23, 1990, May 13, 1997
Number of Executive Officers:  President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer. Tribal Treasurer is appointed.

General Council meeting are the first Saturday of February, May, August, and November of each year. Executive Committee holds meetings at least once a month established by the President.


The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe has an Executive Committee that includes a President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer. The Treasurer is NOT elected and is an appointed, non-voting member of the Executive Committee. Elected Executives serve 4 year terms; elections are staggered.

The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe has 4 elected Tribal Trustees that are voted for at- large by FSST members. Trustees serve 4 year terms; elections are staggered.

Language Classification:  Souian-Catawban -> Siouan

Language Dialects: The Isanti speak the ‘D’ dialect of Siouan language. Also known as Dakota. 

Number of fluent Speakers:



The Sioux tradition says they emerged from inside the Earth at Wind Cave in South Dakota, near the Black Hills.

Bands, Gens, and Clans

Division: Santee
Bands: Mdewakanton, Wahpetowan, Wahpekute, and Sissetowan
The Tribe today consists mainly of descendants of the Mdewakanton band.

Related Tribes:

Sioux divisions, tribes, and bands 

Traditional Allies:

Traditional Enemies:

Ceremonies / Dances:

Special powwows are held for individuals who reached a certain stage in their lives such as graduation or acceptance into the armed forces with traditional honoring ceremonies, give aways, and feasts to celebrate their accomplishments.

The oral tradition is still passed down from the elders to the youth.

The Dakota people still practice their sacred and traditional ceremonies which encompass the seven rites of Dakota Nation brought by the White Buffalo Calf Woman.

Modern Day Events & Tourism:

Royal River Casino

Social activities such as powwow, rodeos, and races are celebrated in the summer months.

Legends / Oral Stories:

Create your own reality
Lakota Star Knoledge
Legend of the Talking Feather
The End of the World according to Lakota legend
The Legend of Devil’s Tower
The White Buffalo Woman
Tunkasila, Grandfather Rock
Unktomi and the arrowheads

Art & Crafts:

 The Flandreau Santee Sioux are best known for their intricate beadwork done in tiny seed beads.





They were a river-plains people who did some farming as well as buffalo hunting.

Economy Today:

Major Employers: Flandreau Indian School, Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, Royal River Casino

Religion & Spiritual Beliefs:
The Sioux Drum

Burial Customs:

Wedding Customs

Newspapers:  Moody County Enterprise, Flandreau,

Famous Sioux Chiefs and Leaders:

Chief Little Crow spent much of his life in Minnesota, where he was the head of a Santee band. Little Crow, a bold and passionate orator, established himself as a spokesman for his people. After becoming chief around 1834, he sought justice for his people, but also tried to maintain relations with the whites. In 1862, he led the fight now known as the Minnesota Santee Conflict. In fact, this war was launched only in the face of starvation and only after the federal government didn’t present land payments as promised. Little Crow was killed the following year. He is buried near Flandreau.

Arthur Amiotte, (Oglala Lakota)-Painter, Sculptor, Author, Historian


Bryan Akipa, flutist (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate)

Catastrophic Events:

Tribe History:
In 1862, the Santee revolted against reservation life, when the government did not meet its treaty obligations and white traders refused to allow food and provisions to be distributed. This uprising, led by Little Crow, was quickly crushed. Twelve hundred Indians, many innocent of any involvement in the uprising surrendered.

After Little Crow’s War in Minnesota in 1862, many of the Isanti people were scattered across the western parts of the Nation and Canada to escape persecution and live life in peace.

In 1866, the Ft.Thompson and Davenport groups were re-united at Santee Agency at the mouth of the Niobrara in Nebraska. One third were converted to Christianity. In 1869, twenty-five families gave up tribal rights and annuities to become citizens, and acquired homesteads along the Big Sioux River at an area that would become Flandreau, South Dakota.

The 7th Cavalry under General George A. Custer was requested to bring the Sioux bands in and place them on the reservation lands. On June 25, 1876, the Battle of the Little Big Horn took place at Greasy Grass, Montana between the 7th Cavalry and the Dakota/Lakota Nations with their allies the Cheyenne and Arapahos. The Dakota Nation won one of the largest victories ever over General George A. Custer and his 7th Cavalry.

The rest of the 1,200 survivors were eventually rounded up and relocated to Fort Thompson and present-day Niobrara, Nebraska. Some of the Isanti moved to Fort Totten, North Dakota and Flandreau, South Dakota while the remainder live on the Sisseton-Wahpeton Reservation in northeastern South Dakota.

The Allotment Act of 1887 allotted Indian lands in 160 acre lots to adult male heads of household and 80 acre lots to adult males to further divide the nation. The Act of 1889 broke up the Great Dakota Nation into smaller reservations, the remainder of which exist today at about one half their original size in 1889.

The Black Hills are located in the center the Great Sioux Nation. The Black Hills are sacred to the Lakota/ Dakota people and today are considered an important part of their spiritual lives. A direct violation of the 1868 Treaty was committed in 1874 by General George A. Custer and his 7th Cavalry. The 7th Cavalry entered the Black Hills and found gold in the Black Hills.

The Gold Rush started the conflict between the United States and Great Dakota Nation. The Great Dakota Nation opposed this violation of the treaty. The United States Government wanted to buy or rent the Black Hills from the Lakota people. The Great Dakota Nation has refused to sell or rent their sacred lands to this day.

Descendants Remember Battle of Little Big Horn

In the News:

Further Reading: