Originally, the Sioux tribe consisted of seven distinct tribes making up over 20,000 people and forming the Great Sioux Nation. Though they share similarities in the way of life and languages, these tribes joined to form a strong political alliance. The original seven were known as the Oceti Sakowin, which means Seven Council Fires.
The Sioux tribes were divided into three main divisions, the Dakotas, Nakotas and Lakotas. The Lakota Sioux lived west of the Missouri River including areas of the Black Hills and Platte River. The Dakotas lived in Minnesota and the South Dakota border, while the Nakotas were located around the Missouri River and southern areas of North and South Dakota.
The Sioux tribe had several encounters against the American government in the 19th century, one such battle was the Dakota War of 1862. In two treaty agreements know as the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux and the Treaty of Mendota the Sioux negotiated the sale of 25 million acres of land they owned in Minnesota to the United States government. In exchange, they were relegated to a reservation and were to receive over 3 million dollars in food and provisions. After crop failures, unfulfilled promises by the government and on the verge of starvation a few Dakotas took action. On August 17 of that year, five white settlers were killed by the Dakotas and more deaths soon followed.
The battle lasted for 6 weeks, leading to the death of around 500 white settlers and soldiers along with over 60 Dakotas. Originally, over 300 Dakotas were sentenced to death but President Abraham Lincoln reviewed their sentences and only 38 of the men were hanged, still making the execution the largest single-day execution in the country. After the conflict was ended, most of the Dakota tribe would be forced out of Minnesota and it would set the stage for several decades of fighting between the government and the Sioux tribe. The last major battle between the two would be the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890 where over 300 men, women and children of the Lakota Sioux would be killed.