Oceti Sakowin [oh-CHEH-tee shaw-KOH-we] means “Seven Council Fires” and refers collectively to the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people. There are seven Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings.
Did you know? The WoLakota Project website includes a repository of Oceti Sakowin Elder interviews aligned with the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings.
OSEU 1 - Lands & Environment: The original land base and natural resources of the Oceti Sakowin were under communal stewardship prior to immigrant settlement. Oceti Sakowin have a distinct and unique interrelationship with the environment that is essential to South Dakota.
In this video, Lowell Amiotte discusses connections to land and people:
OSEU 2 - Identity & Resiliency: There is variety and resiliency among individuals within the Oceti Sakowin Oyate [oh-YAH-tay] (people) as identity is developed, defined, and redefined by entities, by organization, and by people. A continuum of tribal identity, unique to each individual, ranges from assimilated to traditional lifestyle. There is no “generic American Indian.”
In this video, Stephanie Charging Eagle discusses Lakota identity and virtues: Find discussion questions related to the video on this WoLakota Project webpage.
OSEU 3 - Culture & Language: The origin, thought, and philosophy of the Oceti Sakowin continues in the contemporary lifestyles of Tribal members. Tribal cultures, traditions, and languages are incorporated and observed by many Tribal members both on and off the reservations.
In this video, Victor Douville discusses the four values:
OSEU 4 - Kinship & Harmony: Oceti Sakowin kinship systems provide a framework for both individual and group behavior. Its unwritten rules promote harmony, compromise, a sense of order, and group cohesion.
In this video, Jace DeCory discusses sacredness and children:
OSEU 5 - Oral Tradition & Story: History told from the Oceti Sakowin perspective, through oral tradition and written accounts, frequently conflicts with the stories told by mainstream historians. An analysis of multiple perspectives reveals history in a more inclusive and accurate way.
In this video, Joseph Marshall III discusses who gets to tell the story:
OSEU 6 - Sovereignty & Treaties: Federal policies and treaties put into place throughout American history have affected Oceti Sakowin people adversely. Tribes as sovereign nations have the authority to enter into government to government relationships. Currently, the relationship between each tribe, their state(s), and the federal government is not the same for each tribe.
In this video, Faith Spotted Eagle discusses the input of the grandmothers: Find discussion questions related to the video on this WoLakota Project webpage.
OSEU 7 - Way of Life & Development: The essential philosophy of the Oceti Sakowin wicoun [wee-CHO] (way of life) is based on the values of the Oceti Sakowin which have created resiliency of the Oyate (people). Tribal communities have put considerable effort into education and economic development, Tribal universities and colleges, wellness centers, cultural traditions, and language revitalization.
In this video, Sidney Bird discusses compassion, help, and respect: