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Lewis and Clark
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image: Yankton Sioux Indians
Painting by Karl Bodmer/Historical Picture Archive/Corbis
Yankton Sioux Indians

First Noted by Expedition
August 29, 1804

The Yankton branch were the first of the nomadic Plains tribes to meet the Corps of Discovery near what is now Yankton, South Dakota. Destitute and without firearms, the Yankton were keen to establish a trade relationship with the Americans.

Seventy Yankton men arrived at Calumet Bluff on the mouth of the James River for a dramatic ceremony full of dancing, music, archery contests, and feasting. Little was actually accomplished, though; promises were made to maintain the peace, and there was some agreement that a delegation would travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with President Jefferson. But in the end the Yankton didn't receive any of the weaponry they had wanted.

Pushed westward by the Chippewa, the Sioux were relative newcomers to the Missouri River region. It was the Chippewa who gave the Sioux Nation this name. The Sioux actually called themselves Lakota, Dakota, or in the case of the Yankton, Nakota. "Sioux" came from the French-Canadian pronunciation of the Chippewa word for the SiouxNadouessioux, or snake. Since the Chippewa were enemies, it is not likely that the name was intended as a compliment.

It was among the Yankton that the Corps first encountered tepees, the hide-covered, conical lodgings of the Plains Indians.

Today there are Sioux reservations in many states: South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Montana, as well as reserve lands in Canada.

From the Expedition Journals

"On landing I was receved on a elegent painted B. Robe & taken to the Village by 6 Men & was not permited to touch the ground untill I was put down in the grand Concill house on a White dressed Robe."
image: Yankton Sioux Indians
Painting by Karl Bodmer/Historical Picture Archive/Corbis

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