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