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The Nakoda Nation

Nakoda/Cree Council The Nakoda people are speakers of the Siouan language, and are part of a larger cultural group that includes the Assiniboine, the Stoney, the Lakota, the Dakota, and the Sioux. These different names have at various times in history been employed to refer to the Nakoda, with Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota being used as terms to refer to distinct dialects within the Siouan language. The practice of categorizing and naming the Nakoda people has sometimes caused confusion and led to some debate over whether groups like the Assiniboine and Sioux should be considered as culturally distinct groups, or as variants of the same culture.

The Nakoda have a long history on the plains of what is now western Canada. Their western movement into the woodlands and onto the plains of present-day Alberta and Saskatchewan was spurred by their trading and kinship alliance with the Cree, and by their valuable position as middle traders between the European fur traders and the First Peoples living along the Saskatchewan River.

Nakoda custom and tradition took two main forms in the northwest: the Nakoda who lived primarily a bison-hunting lifestyle characteristic of plains peoples, and the Nakoda who lived further north, hunting, trapping and fishing to survive. Their spiritual life evolved from close ties to the land, and centred on the concept of wakan or holiness. All the animate and inanimate parts of the land contained manifest spirits of wakan which could be called upon for assistance.

Nakoda women Nakoda society was a loose alliance of individual bands that formed based on kinship or close friendship. Nakoda men and women each had distinct social roles within the band, with women being the caretakers of the camp, and men being the protectors and main food providers. Throughout Nakoda history, Nakoda men and women have distinguished themselves for their contributions to their people, and for the impact their actions have made on the world.

DeMallie, Raymond J. and David Reed Miller. “Assiniboine,” in DeMallie, Raymond J. Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 13, part 1 of 2. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 2001.

Denig, Edwin Thompson. The Assiniboine: Forty Sixth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution 1928-1929. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center, 2000.

Malinowski, Sharon and Anna Sheets, eds., “Assiniboine.” The Gale Encyclopedia of North American Tribes, Vol. III. Detroit: Gale Research, 1998.

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