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Flandreau Santee Sioux - South Dakota (U.S.)

Native American

Last modified: 2017-08-21 by rick wyatt
Keywords: flandreau santee sioux | sioux | south dakota | native american |
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[Flandreau Santee Sioux flag] image by Donald Healy, 5 January 2008

See also:

The Band

[Flandreau Santee Sioux - South Dakota map]
map image by Peter Orenski based on input from Don Healy

Flandreau Santee Sioux - South Dakota

The Flandreau Santee is the smallest of the Sioux Tribes in South Dakota, with a population below 300 and land holdings of 3,200 acres (AID, 43), yet Santees lent their names to the states of North and South Dakota. Sioux Nations to their west were known as Nakota or Lakota, but the Santee called themselves Dakota.

The Santee comprise four bands, the Sisseton, the Wahpeton, the Wahpekute, and the Mdewakanton. The first two bands live on the Lake Traverse Reservation in South Dakota and the Devil's Lake Reservation in North Dakota [see Sisseton & Wahpeton Sioux]. The last two bands are scattered on several small reservations in Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota. One of these small reservations is the colony outside the town of Flandreau, South Dakota (Presenting the Flandreau Santee Sioux, undated pamphlet, United Sioux Tribes, Pierre, South Dakota).

The Flandreau Santee, a mix of Wahpekute and Mdewakanton, derive their name from the Dakota Isanyati, a shortening of Mde Insanti, the DakotA NAME for the Mille Lacs region of Minnesota, the historic Santee homeland. Isanyati thus essentially means "people of the Mille Lacs region".

The Flandreau Santee settled in their current location after the "Minnesota Wars" of 1862 and adopted the lifestyle of their surrounding white neighbors.

Donald Healy 2008

The Flag

Until 1994, the Flandreau Santee Sioux flag was dark blue with a white circle in the center. Arching across the top of this circle was "FLANDREAU" in black; across the bottom was "SANTEE". The circle was crossed by a pair of peace pipes representing the Mdewakanton and Wahpekute bands. From each pipe hung two feathers for a total of four - the mystical number in Native American symbolism and the number of bands comprising the Santee Nation.

The peace pipes on the flag had special significance. The Santee mined the sacred red stone used to carve the heads of the peace pipes employed by many tribes throughout North America. Santee miners still take this sacred rock from a quarry now protected by the federal government as Pipestone National Monument in southwestern Minnesota [see Iowa Nation of Oklahoma]. The Santee also carve elaborate pipe heads and make handsome peace pipes for sale.

In 1994 the Tribe adopted a dramatically different flag, perhaps influenced by the Tribe's entry into the gaming industry. The new flag is white, edged with light blue. Near the center is a disk with light blue edging and divided vertically, orange to the left, red to the right; the two colors may recall the two bands that make up the Flandreau Santee. Overlaying this disk is the head of a bald eagle, the powerful messenger between the "Great Father" and man, and the creature atop the hierarchy of totems in Native American beliefs. The stylized eagle's head is shown in brown and white, edged in light blue.

Emanating from the disk to the right are five sun rays of orange, yellow, red, yellow, and orange. A brown peace pipe crossing behind the disk bears two feathers, again perhaps referring to the Wahpekute and Mdewakanton bands. Along the upper edge of the pipe in the upper left corner is "APRIL 24, 1936", the date the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe adopted its constitution. On the other side of the disk, along the top of the pipe, is "WAKPA IPAKSUN", the Wahpekute band's name in its native tongue. Arching along the top of the disk is "MDE AKANTON", the name of the Mdewakanton band in Dakota. Arching behind the head of the eagle is "FLANDREAU SANTEE SIOUX TRIBE, FLANDREAU, SOUTH DAKOTA". All lettering on the flag is black.

Donald Healy 2008
information provided by Peter Orenski, 5 January 2008