Horse-mounted Indians, wearing long eagle-feathered warbonnets and fringed leather clothing with colorful beadwork, ride across the grasslands of the Great Plains. They hunt buffalo. They ﬁght the cavalry. They sit in council inside painted tipis, wearing buffalo robes and smoking long-stemmed peace pipes. These images of Indians have been shown to us again and again, in books, movies and television shows about the West. These images, more likely than not, depict the Sioux, more properly referred to by the Native name Dakota, Lakota, or Nakota.
Two of the most famous incidents in Indian and American history—Custer’s Last Stand (also called the Battle of Little Bighorn) and Wounded Knee—involved the Sioux. The numerous Sioux fought many other battles against the U.S. army on the northern plains. Some of the most famous Indian ﬁghters in history, such as Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse, were Sioux. And one of the most famous incidents in recent Indian history occurred on a Sioux reservation, again at Wounded Knee.