North-South-East-West: American Indians and the Natural World

The Lakota of the Plains

Onto the Plains

The European presence in North America changed forever the lives of American Indians. The combination of European expansion and increased intertribal competition for diminishing resources prompted the dislocation of many Native American groups from their ancestral territories.

As the pressures resulting from the dislocation of eastern peoples increased, the Lakota left their villages. They were reacting to the presence of new American Indian groups who entered the prairies and of French and British traders and soldiers who made their way into the area.

Around 1750, the Lakota were forced to migrate onto the Great Plains, where they hoped to find peace and prosperity. They settled into present-day South Dakota, reaching the Black Hills by 1765. The people living here were forced further west, and the forced migration continued for many years.

On the Plains, the Lakota gave up their settled villages and their agricultural life. They became nomadic hunters, establishing temporary camps and small villages. Over the next century, the Lakota developed a distinct and thriving culture that grew out of their new circumstances.

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