Nakota / Nakoda / Nakona // Îyârhe
"ally / friend" // "mountain"
PersonAssiniboine: Nakóda
Stoney: Îyethka
PeopleAssiniboine: Nakón Oyáde
Stoney: Îyethkabi / Îyethka Oyade
(oral): Nakón Iyábi
(sign): Nakón Wíyutabi
(oral): Îyethka Îabi / wîchoîe
(sign): Îyethka Wowîhâ
CountryAssiniboine: Nakón Mąkóce
Stoney: Îyethka Makóce

Nakota (or Nakoda or Nakona) is the endonym used by those Native peoples of North America who usually go by the name of Assiniboine (or Hohe), in the United States, and of Stoney, in Canada.

The Assiniboine branched off from the Great Sioux Nation (aka the Oceti Sakowin) long ago and moved further west from the original territory in the woodlands of what is now Minnesota into the northern and northwestern regions of Montana and North Dakota in the United States, and Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta in Canada. In each of the Western Siouan language dialects, nakota, dakota and lakota all mean "friend".[citation needed]

Linguistic history

Historically, the tribes belonging to the Sioux nation known as the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires) have generally been classified into three large regional groups:

  • Lakota (Thítȟuŋwaŋ; anglicized as Teton), who form the westernmost group;
  • Eastern Dakota (Isáŋyathi; anglicized as Santee), consisting of the four bands: Mdewakanton, Sisseton, Wahpeton, Wahpekute;
  • Western Dakota, collectively known as Wičhíyena, the two central tribes of the Yankton and the Yanktonai.

The Assiniboine separated from the Yankton-Yanktonai grouping around 1640. All tribes of Sioux use the term Dakóta, or Lakóta, to designate those who speak one of the Dakota/Lakota dialects, except the Assiniboine. The latter, however, include themselves under the term (Nakóta).

For a long time, very few scholars criticized this classification. Among the first was the Yankton/Lakota scholar Ella Deloria.

In 1978, Douglas R. Parks, A. Wesley Jones, David S. Rood, and Raymond J. DeMallie engaged in systematic linguistic research at the Sioux and Assiniboine reservations to establish the precise dialectology of the Sioux language. They ascertained that both the Santee and the Yankton/Yanktonai referred (and refer) to themselves by the autonym Dakota. The name of Nakota (or Nakoda) was (and is) exclusive usage of the Assiniboine and of their Canadian relatives, the Stoney. The subsequent academic literature, however, especially if it is not produced by linguistic specialists, has seldom reflected Parks and DeMallie's work. The change cannot be regarded as a subsequent terminological regression caused by the fact that Yankton-Yanktonai people lived together with the Santee in the same reserves.

Currently, the groups refer to themselves as follows in their mother tongues:

Present trends

Recently the Assiniboine and, especially, the Stoney have begun to minimize the historic separation from the Dakota, claiming a shared identity with the broader Sioux Nation. This can be seen on Alberta's Stoney official Internet sites, for example, in the self-designation of the Alexis Nakota Sioux First Nation, or in the claim of the Nakoda people to their Sioux ancestry and the value of their native language: "As descendants of the great Sioux nations, the Stoney tribal members of today prefer to conduct their conversation and tribal business in the Siouan mother tongue". Saskatchewan's Assiniboine and Stoney tribes also claim identification with the Sioux tradition.

The Assiniboine-Stoney tribes have supported recent "pan-Sioux" attempts to revive the native languages. Their representatives attend the annual "Lakota, Dakota, Nakota Language Summits." Since 2008, these have been sponsored by Tusweca Tiospaye (Dragonfly Community), the Lakota non-profit organization for the promotion and strengthening of the language. They promote a mission of "Uniting the Seven Council Fires to Save the Language".


  1. ^ For the usage of the term "nakona" by Fort Peck's Assiniboine, cf. and Archived 2011-06-15 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ See, as examples, Frederick W. Hodge (ed.), Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, 2 Pts./vols., Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 30, Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, U.S. GPO, 1907/1910 (1:376), and Robert H. Lowie, Indians of the plains, American Museum of Natural History. Anthropological Handbook 1, New York: McGraw Hill, 1954 (8)
  3. ^ "The Assiniboine". Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site (U.S. National Park Service). April 24, 2021. Retrieved August 8, 2023.
  4. ^ a b The inaccuracy of the scheme was also discussed, in 1976, in Patricia A. Shaw's PhD Dissertation, Dakota Phonology and Morphology, University of Toronto (cited by Parks & Rankin, p. 97). For a non-linguist point of view, cf. also E. S. Curtis (The North ... , vol. 3, The Teton Sioux. The Yanktonai. The Assiniboin, p. 142 [1])
  5. ^ A summary of the research can be found in Parks/DeMallie, 1992.
  6. ^ See the works by G. E. Gibbon and J. D. Palmer cited among the sources of the present article or Paul B. Neck's book about Dakota chief Inkpaduta (Inkpaduta. Dakota Leader, Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-8061-3950-0)
  7. ^ Raymond DeMallie reports that the word 'nakota' had "become a symbol of self-identification for Yankton and Yanktonai young people that distinguished them from the Santee-Sisseton and Teton ..." ("Sioux ...", p. 750).
  8. ^ A like thesis is held by James H. Howard. While admitting that, in modern times, all the oriental and central Sioux groups use the term Dakhóta to designate themselves (and the whole nation), he suggests that the form Nakhóta has just "fallen into disuse'" among the Yankton and the Yanktonai (The Canadian ... , p. 4)
  9. ^ a b The endonym includes both the Assiniboine/Stoney and the Lakota/Dakota.
  10. ^ Cf.
  11. ^ Cf. "Bearspaw, Chiniki, Wesley Nakoda Nations (Stoney)". Treaty 7 Nations. Archived from the original on 2017-10-16. Retrieved 2017-10-15.
  12. ^ Cf. "Hohe Nakoda History & Background". Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre. Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2013-02-12.. According to the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre (SICC), some elder Stoney say they can understand Lakota better than Assiniboine. They believe they may be "Rocky Mountains Sioux" rather than descendants of the Hohe ("Rebels," as the Assiniboine used to be called).
  13. ^ Thuswéčha Thióšpaye
  14. ^ Cf. "Lakota Dakota Nakota Language Summit". Tusweca Tiospaye : Uniting the Seven Council Fires to Save Our Language. Archived from the original on 2009-08-13. Retrieved 2009-10-01.. The Lakota promoters acknowledge a common origin with the Nakota peoples: 2008's Language Summit was an effort to unite the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota ("Sioux") oyate (peoples) in both the United States and Canada to revive the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota languages. In the program of the 2009 summit, the list of the tribes forming the "Seven Council Fires" included the Assiniboine and Stoney in the "Fire" of the Yanktonai. (This was the group from which they are said to have separated historically.) Later, the two Nakota tribes were shifted to the end of the list. The wording, "Also includes the Stoney and Assiniboine People," was retained.2009 Summit Archived 2009-12-11 at the Wayback Machine


  • Curtis, Edward Sheriff, The North American Indian : being a series of volumes picturing and describing the Indians of the United States, and Alaska (written, illustrated, and published by Edward S. Curtis; edited by Frederick Webb Hodge), Seattle, E. S. Curtis [Cambridge, Mass. : The University Press], 1907–1930, 20 v. (Northwestern University)
  • DeMallie, Raymond J., "Sioux until 1850"; in Raymond J. DeMallie (ed.), Handbook of North American Indians: Plains (Vol. 13, Part 2, p. 718–760), William C. Sturtevant (Gen. Ed.), Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 2001 (ISBN 0-16-050400-7)
  • Guy E. Gibbon, The Sioux: the Dakota and Lakota nations, Malden, Blackwell Publishers, 2003 (ISBN 1557865663)
  • Howard, James H., The Canadian Sioux, Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 1984 (ISBN 0-8032-2327-7)
  • Lewis, M. Paul (ed.), 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition, Tex.: SIL International. Online version:
  • Palmer, Jessica D., The Dakota peoples: a history of the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota through 1863. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2008 (ISBN 0786431776)
  • Parks, Douglas R., DeMallie, Raymond J., "Sioux, Assiniboine and Stoney Dialects: A Classification", Anthropological Linguistics, Special Issue, Florence M. Voegelin Memorial Volume, Vol. 34:1-4 (Spring - Winter, 1992), pp. 233-255 (accessible online at JSTORE.
  • Parks, Douglas R. & Rankin, Robert L., "The Siouan languages", in Raymond J. DeMallie (ed.), Handbook of North American Indians: Plains (Vol. 13, Part 1, p. 94–114), William C. Sturtevant (gen. ed.), Smithsonian Institution, Washington, 2001.
  • Christopher Westhorp, Pocket guide to native Americans, Salamander Books, Londra, 1993 (ISBN 1856000230) – Italian edition consulted: Indiani. I Pellerossa Tribù per Tribù, Idealibri, Milan, 1993 (ISBN 88-7082-254-0).

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