The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe is comprised primarily of descendents of the Mdewakantonwan and Wakpekute bands of the Isanti division of the Great Sioux Nation. They refer to themselves as Dakota, meaning friend or ally. The Isanti are comprised of four bands that lived on the eastern side of the Great Sioux Nation: Mdewakanton or People of Spirit Lake, Wakpekute or Leaf Shooters, Wahpetons or People of the Leaves, and Sisseton or People of the Swamp. They were a river-plains people who did some farming and buffalo hunting.
Chief Little Crow (1810-1863) spent much of his life in Minnesota, where he was the head of a Santee band. Little Crow, a bold and passionate orator, established himself as a spokesman for his people. After becoming chief, around 1834, he sought justice for his people, but also tried to maintain relations with non-Indians. In 1862, he led the fight, now known as the Minnesota Santee Conflict, protesting starvation and the loss of promised land payments from the federal government. Little Crow was killed the following year.
The tribe reconstructed the traditional powwow grounds and now hosts the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe Annual Wacipi each summer. It serves as a cultural and spiritual gathering place for Native Americans and has grown into a major regional tourist activity.
For a taste of local history, visitors can stop at the Moody County Museum in Flandreau. It contains a collection of Native American and early pioneer artifacts.
The Four Winds Cultural Center, located on the Flandreau Indian School campus, displays artifacts, memorabilia and contemporary materials.
The Big Sioux River, which winds its way through the area, provides opportunities for fishing, swimming and canoeing. Split Rock Creek, to the east, is known for its towering quartzite cliffs. Visitors can get a great look at these ancient formations from the hiking trails in Palisades State Park south of Flandreau.
The Royal River Entertainment Complex had humble beginnings as a bingo hall. The multi-million dollar facility features a casino gambling area, an entertainment and conference center, a motel, an RV park, a full-service restaurant, buffet, snack bar and lounge.
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe
Flandreau, South Dakota