Friday, August 29, 2014

The Origin Of The Hunkpapa Lakota

Sitting Bull is probably the most recognized Huŋkphápȟa, seen here in this photo from his days in Buffalo Bill's western show.
The Origin Of The Hunkpapa Lakota
Different Stories And Pronunciations
By Dakota Wind
FORT YATES, N.D. – When I was in the eighth grade, the teacher dedicated about an hour to North Dakota Studies. She didn’t focus so much on non-native history, but developed her own curriculum and content. At the time, I didn't appreciate the effort and energy she poured into our native identity and culture.

I distinctly recall one day how she told the class that we were Teton. If I turned in homework with “Sioux” on it, she wrote in that threatening blood red script way that only teachers can, that we were Teton and I had better use that word.

My grandparents told me we were called Huŋkphápȟa, and pronounced it with a clear distinction from my pronunciation of Hunkpapa. In the culture club at school, I remember being told that Huŋkphápȟa translated as “Head of The Circle,” “End of The Circle,” and “Camps At The Entrance” in reference to how this band camped at the entrance of the Thítȟuŋwaŋ (Teton) councils. The Huŋkphápȟa were the first to arrive and the last to leave.

According to Mary Louise Defender-Wilson, a traditional arts scholar and enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the historic etymology of Huŋkphápȟa is that the tribal name was once Henúŋpapȟapha, and related to a time when this particular group of Thítȟuŋwaŋ people were camped near Matȟó Thípila (Bear Lodge; Devil’s Tower).

Josephine Waggoner’s “Witness: A Huŋkphápȟa Historian’s Strong-Heart Song Of The Lakotas” another word history is offered. It’s as different in the telling as it is comes from a different Lakȟóta tribal perspective, the Oglála. The Oglála historian, Makhúla (Breast), recounted that “in the earliest days, the Huŋkphápȟaya were of the Oglála band, who wandered far north and roamed on the upper part of the Missouri River and further up into Canada. They were called the upper river Indians – Íŋkpapaya, afterwards called Huŋkphápȟaya.

In a discussion with Jerome Kills Small (Oglála) in September 2012, Kills Small related much the same story as recounted in Waggoner’s book, that the Huŋkphápȟa were once Oglála whose country was the Upper Missouri River. He was deliberate in his explanation too in the pronunciation of Hunkpapa as Huŋkphápȟa, and offered no variation of the name.

The traditional territory of the Huŋkphápȟa is of course the Upper Missouri River, which ranges from the Wakpá Wašté (Cheyenne River) in the south, along the Mníšoše (Missouri River) to the Čhaȟí Wakpá (Powder River) and Heȟáka Wakpá (Yellowstone River) in the north and west. Naturally, this territory was contested by other tribes.

Today the Huŋkphápȟa can be found on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation with some at the Fort Peck Sioux Indian Reservation and the Wood Mountain Reserve in Saskatchewan – not to mention many more who live off the reservations throughout the country.

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