Oglala (Redirected from Oglala Lakota)

Oglála Lakhóta Oyáte
Total population
46,855 enrolled tribal members (2013)
Regions with significant populations
 United States ( South Dakota)
Lakota, English
Traditional tribal religion, Sun Dance,
Native American Church, Christianity
Related ethnic groups
other Lakota peoples, Dakota, Nakota

The Oglala (pronounced [oɡəˈlala], meaning "to scatter one's own" in Lakota language) are one of the seven subtribes of the Lakota people who, along with the Dakota, make up the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ (Seven Council Fires). A majority of the Oglala live on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, the eighth-largest Native American reservation in the United States.

The Oglala are a federally recognized tribe whose official title is the Oglala Lakota Nation (previously called the Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota). However, many Oglala reject the term "Sioux" due to the hypothesis (among other possible theories) that its origin may be a derogatory word meaning "snake" in the language of the Ojibwe, who were among the historical enemies of the Lakota. They are also known as Oglála Lakhóta Oyáte.


Oglala elders relate stories about the origin of the name "Oglala" and their emergence as a distinct group, probably sometime in the 18th century.

Conflict with the European settlers

In the early 19th century, Europeans and American passed through Lakota territory in increasing numbers. They sought furs, especially beaver fur at first, and later bison fur. The fur trade changed the Oglala economy and way of life.

In 1868, the United States and the Great Sioux Nation signed the Fort Laramie Treaty. In its wake, the Oglala became increasingly polarized over how they should react to continued American encroachment on their territory. This treaty forfeited large amounts of Oglala land and rights to the United States in exchange for food and other necessities. Some Lakota bands turned to the Indian agencies — institutions that late served Indian reservations – for rations of beef and subsistence foods from the US government. Other bands held fast to Indigenous lifeways. Many Lakota bands moved between these two extremes, coming in to the agencies during the winter and joining their relatives in the north each spring. These challenges further split the various Oglala bands.

The influx of white settlers into the Idaho Territory often meant passing through Oglala territory, and, occasionally, brought with it its perils, as Fanny Kelly described in her 1871 book, Narrative of My Captivity among the Sioux Indians.

Early reservation

The Great Sioux Reservation was broken up into five portions. This caused the Red Cloud Agency to be moved multiple times throughout the 1870s until it was relocated and renamed the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1878. By 1890, the reservation included 5,537 people, divided into a number of districts that included some 30 distinct communities.

2022 temporary Christian missions suspension

In July 2022, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council effected a temporary suspension of Christian missions on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The council called for an investigation into the financial practices of the Dream Center Missionary, and the Jesus is King Mission was ejected from the reservation for spreading pamphlets that the tribe saw as hateful.

Social organization

Sarah Eagle Heart (Oglala Lakota), Emmy-award winning producer, author, and activist
The Wake Singers, band of Oglala Lakota musicians

The respected Oglala elder Left Heron once explained that before the coming of the White Buffalo Calf Woman, "the people ran around the prairie like so many wild animals," not understanding the central importance of community. Left Heron emphasized that not only did this revered spirit woman bring the Sacred Pipe to the tribe but she also taught the Lakota people many valuable lessons, including the importance of family (tiwahe) and community (tiyospaye). The goal of promoting these two values then became a priority, and in the words of Dakota anthropologist Ella Cara Deloria, "every other consideration was secondary—property, personal ambition, glory, good times, life itself. Without that aim and the constant struggle to attain it, the people would no longer be Dakotas in truth. They would no longer even be human." This strong and enduring connection between related families profoundly influenced Oglala history.

Community (Tiyóšpaye)

Dr. John J. Saville, the U.S. Indian agent at the Red Cloud Agency, observed in 1875 that the Oglala tribe was divided into three main groups: the Kiyuksa, the Oyuĥpe and the True Oglala. "Each of these bands are subdivided into smaller parties, variously named, usually designated by the name of their chief or leader." As the Oglala were settled on the Pine Ridge Reservation in the late 1870s, their communities probably looked something like this:

Oyuȟpe Tiyóšpaye

  • True Oyuȟpe (Big Road's band). Other members include: Black Elk
  • Wakaŋ
  • Makaicu (Red Dog's band)

Oglala Tiyóšpaye

Kiyaksa Tiyóšpaye


By 1830, the Oglala had around 3,000 members. In the 1820s and 1830s, the Oglala, along with the Brulé, another Lakota band, and three other Sioux bands, formed the Sioux Alliance. This Alliance attacked surrounding tribes for territorial and hunting reasons.


Gender roles

Historically, women have been critical to the family's life: making almost everything used by the family and tribe. They have cultivated and processed a variety of crops; prepared the food; prepared game and fish; worked skins to make clothing and footwear, as well as storage bags, the covering of tipis, and other items. Women have historically controlled the food, resources and movable property, as well as owned the family's home.

Typically, in the Oglala Lakota society, the men are in charge of the politics of the tribe. The men are usually the chiefs for political affairs, war leaders and warriors, and hunters. Traditionally, when a man marries, he goes to live with his wife with her people.

Oglala flag

Oglala flag in use since 1961

First used in 1961, this flag was approved by the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council on March 9, 1962, as the flag of the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST). The circle of 8 tipi on the flag represent the geometric form created in the Lakota Inipi (Sweat Lodge). The red field represents the Red Nation, which the Lakota refer to themselves as the "Red People". The flag pictured is the original not the current OST Flag.

Notable Oglala

American Horse "The Younger"
Ola Mildred Rexroat, the only Native American pilot in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP)


Military personnel






  • Albert Afraid of Hawk – member of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show who died and was buried in Danbury, Connecticut, while on tour in 1900. His remains were exhumed and re-interred on Pine Ridge Reservation in 2012.

Culinary activists

See also

This page was last updated at 2024-02-10 20:30 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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