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The Siouan Mythology
The Mdewakantonwan
Tribal Nomenclature
The Sisitonwan Or Sisseton
The Oohe-nonpa Or Two Kettles
Designation And Mode Of Camping
Phonetic And Graphic Arts
The Siha-sapa Or Blackfeet

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The Waqpe-kute
The Tutelo
The Quapaw Or Kwapa
The Ni-u'-t'a-tci Or Missouri
General Features Of Organization
3 _{~latin Small Letter Turned T~}{~latin Small Letter Open O~}iwe´re_ (_people Of This Place_)
9 _catawba Or Ni-ya (people)_
The Eastern And Southern Tribes

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Tribal Nomenclature

In the Siouan stock, as among the American Indians generally, the accepted
appellations for tribes and other groups are variously derived. Many of
the Siouan tribal names were, like the name of the stock, given by alien
peoples, including white men, though most are founded on the descriptive
or other designations used in the groups to which they pertain. At first
glance, the names seem to be loosely applied and perhaps vaguely defined,
and this laxity in application and definition does not disappear, but
rather increases, with closer examination.

There are special reasons for the indefiniteness of Indian nomenclature:
The aborigines were at the time of discovery, and indeed most of them
remain today, in the prescriptorial stage of culture, i.e., the stage in
which ideas are crystallized, not by means of arbitrary symbols, but by
means of arbitrary associations,(18) and in this stage names are connotive
or descriptive, rather than denotive as in the scriptorial stage.
Moreover, among the Indians, as among all other prescriptorial peoples,
the ego is paramount, and all things are described, much more largely than
among cultured peoples, with reference to the describer and the position
which he occupies--Self and Here, and, if need be, Now and Thus, are the
fundamental elements of primitive conception and description, and these
elements are implied and exemplified, rather than expressed, in thought
and utterance. Accordingly there is a notable paucity in names, especially
for themselves, among the Indian tribes, while the descriptive
designations applied to a given group by neighboring tribes are often

The principles controlling nomenclature in its inchoate stages are
illustrated among the Siouan peoples. So far as their own tongues were
concerned, the stock was nameless, and could not be designated save
through integral parts. Even the great Dakota confederacy, one of the most
extensive and powerful aboriginal organizations, bore no better
designation than a term probably applied originally to associated tribes
in a descriptive way and perhaps used as a greeting or countersign,
although there was an alternative proper descriptive term.--Seven
Council-fires--apparently of considerable antiquity, since it seems to
have been originally applied before the separation of the Asiniboin.(19)
In like manner the cegiha, {~LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED T~}{~LATIN SMALL LETTER OPEN O~}iwe're, and Hotcangara groups, and perhaps
the Niya, were without denotive designations for themselves, merely
styling themselves Local People, Men, Inhabitants, or, still more
ambitiously, People of the Parent Speech, in terms which are variously
rendered by different interpreters; they were lords in their own domain,
and felt no need for special title. Different Dakota tribes went so far as
to claim that their respective habitats marked the middle of the world, so
that each insisted on precedence as the leading tribe,(20) and it was the
boast of the Mandan that they were the original people of the earth.(21)
In the more carefully studied confederacies the constituent groups
generally bore designations apparently used for convenient distinction in
the confederation; sometimes they were purely descriptive, as in the case
of the Sisseton, Wahpeton, Sans Arcs, Blackfeet, Oto, and several others;
again they referred to the federate organization (probably, possibly to
relative position of habitat), as in the Yankton, Yanktonai, and Hunkpapa;
more frequently they referred to geographic or topographic position, e.g.,
Teton, Omaha, Pahe'tsi, Kwapa, etc; while some appear to have had a
figurative or symbolic connotation, as Brule, Ogalala, and Ponka. Usually
the designations employed by alien peoples were more definite than those
used in the group designated, as illustrated by the stock name, Asiniboin,
and Iowa. Commonly the alien appellations were terms of reproach; thus
Sioux, Biloxi, and Hohe (the Dakota designation for the Asiniboin) are
clearly opprobrious, while Paskagula might easily be opprobrious among
hunters and warriors, and Iowa and Oto appear to be derogatory or
contemptuous expressions. The names applied by the whites were sometimes
taken from geographic positions, as in the case of Upper Yanktonai and
Cape Fear--the geographic names themselves being frequently of Indian
origin. Some of the current names represent translations of the aboriginal
terms either into English (Blackfeet, Two Kettles, Crow,) or into
French (Sans Arcs, Brule, Gros Ventres); yet most of the names, at
least of the prairie tribes, are simply corruptions of the aboriginal
terms, though frequently the modification is so complete as to render
identification and interpretation difficult--it is not easy to find Waca'ce
in Osage (so spelled by the French, whose orthography was adopted and
mispronounced by English-speaking pioneers), or Pa'qotce in Iowa.

The meanings of most of the eastern names are lost; yet so far as they are
preserved they are of a kind with those of the interior. So, too, are the
subtribal names enumerated by Dorsey.

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