The vast Great Plains region consists of over a million square miles between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. Many different groups of native peoples have lived in the Plains. Some Plains tribes include the Pawnee, Commanche, Kiowa, and the Dakota and Lakota (or Sioux).
The Sioux people are perhaps the most familiar to people living in the Upper Midwest. Sioux is actually a name given to them by others. The word derives from an Ojibwe word meaning snake-like or enemy. Dakota, a word that means friend, is what they called themselves. Once all the Dakota spoke the same language. As white settlers moved into Minnesota crowding the Dakota who moved westward on to the Plains, they gradually formed three groups speaking different dialects. Today, we refer to the eastern people as the Dakota or Santee. The western people are known as the Lakota or Teton, and those in the central area are known as the Nakota or Yankton people.