The Lakota are part of what was once called the Oceti Sakowin (Och-et-eeshak-oh-win), meaning Seven Council Fires. They were made up of three linguistically related peoples who speak three different dialects of the same language — Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota. The traditional names of the Oceti Sakowin Oyate groups are: Wahpekute, Wahpetunwan, Sisistunwan, Bdwakantunwan, Ihanktunwan, Ihanktunwanna, and Titunwan. Today, the tribes that descended from the Oceti Sakowin maintain their own lands in Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, and Montana in the United States, as well as Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan in Canada.
One of the more subtle yet important aspects of Lakota culture is the language, which presents a very different way of thinking and understanding our place in the universe.
Lakota religion and spirituality are important factors that keep people’s minds and bodies strong and our sacred ceremonies help keep us in balance and mentally and physically healthy.
One way the Lakota culture survives today is through the “wacipi,” more commonly known as a “pow-wow.” The wacipi celebration is a cultural and social event that remains active and important today and is a significant means of sharing and perpetuating cultural values and spiritual beliefs. Pow-wows primarily occur in the summer on the Pine Ridge and many other reservations.