History of the land and people
The Dakota is a nation of Indigenous peoples whose traditional lands span modern-day United States and Canada. Historically, the Dakota nation occupied a territory that included modern-day Wisconsin through Minnesota, and north to Ontario through to the Prairie Provinces.
The Dakota Nation relied on the tatanka – or buffalo. The tatanka provided the Dakota with many of the elements they needed to survive, such as food, shelter, clothing, tools and weapons. The tatanka holds great cultural significance to the essence of the Dakota people and is a prominent element in their teachings and cultural values.
The Dakota moved across their vast territory to secure resources for their communities. Dakota camps and trading areas were often situated along major waterways. As the Dakota travelled, they gave places names in the Dakota language. In Saskatchewan, these include Wakpa Min Te (North Saskatchewan River), Mini duz (South Saskatchewan River), and Wakpa O Ze Te, which refers to where the North Saskatchewan River and South Saskatchewan River meet.
The Dakota way of life emphasizes respect for others and the environment. The Dakota believe that peace and harmony are essential elements for relationships to living creatures and all of creation. The word “Dakota” means “friend” or “ally.” Throughout history, the Dakota has a long history of relationship building with other Indigenous nations and with European newcomers.