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Joseph C. Robertson PhD

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The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate (SWO) of the Lake Traverse Reservation is located in the Northeastern part of South Dakota and a small portion of southeastern corner of North Dakota. The reservation boundaries extend across seven counties two in North and five in South Dakota.

Historically, Native Americans that comprise the Great Sioux Nation consisted of three major Oyates of the Oceti Sakowin including the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota people.

The Dakota people are comprised of the Sisituwan, Wahpetunwan, Wahpekute, and Mdewakantunwan and are the oldest of the three divisions. Since the inception of the Indian Appropriations Act, many of the Dakota people have called the Lake Traverse Reservation home.

Today, there are seven political sub-divisions located within the original exterior boundaries of the Lake Traverse Reservation. These districts were put in place shortly after the reservation was established.

Each of the districts has their own community and are as follows:

  • Big Coulee (Iyakapta, Trail Head) - Natural game trail the people followed to get over the hills.

  • Lake Traverse (Bde hda Kinyan, Along the Lake) - The district was named after the lake at which it resides.

  • Old Agency (Ate Yapi Tipi Home of the BIA Superintendent) - The district is located near the original site of the Sisseton Agency.

  • Buffalo Lake (Can Onasa Bde, Buffalo in the Trees Lake) - The buffalo were chased onto the lake during hunts where they fell in the thin ice.

  • Long Hollow (Kaksiza Hanska, Longest Hollow) - Named due to the hollows that stretch as far as Sica Hollow and is the longest hollow in the area.

  • Veblen-Heipa (Mountain Head) - Where the range of hills start and spans out for over 300 miles into Minnesota.

  • Enemy Swim (Toka Nuwan, Swim Enemy) - Due to the battle between the Chippewa and the Dakota, this was called out over and over as the Chippewa swam away.

A Map of the Lake Traverse Reservation courtesy of the SWO GIS Department