The Red Road and Other Narratives of the Dakota Sioux


The Red Road and Other Narratives of the Dakota Sioux

Samuel Mniyo and Robert Goodvoice
Edited by Daniel M. Beveridge
With Jurgita Antoine
Foreword by David R. Miller

Studies in the Anthropology of North American Indians Series

336 pages
15 photographs, 9 figures, 7 tables, 5 maps, glossary, 6 appendixes


February 2020


$75.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

February 2020


$75.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

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February 2020


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About the Book

2021 Scholarly Writing Award in the Saskatchewan Book Awards

This book presents two of the most important traditions of the Dakota people, the Red Road and the Holy Dance, as told by Samuel Mniyo and Robert Goodvoice, two Dakota men from the Wahpeton Dakota Nation near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada. Their accounts of these central spiritual traditions and other aspects of Dakota life and history go back seven generations and help to illuminate the worldview of the Dakota people for the younger generation of Dakotas, also called the Santee Sioux.

“The Good Red Road,” an important symbolic concept in the Holy Dance, means the good way of living or the path of goodness. The Holy Dance (also called the Medicine Dance) is a Dakota ceremony of earlier generations. Although it is no longer practiced, it too was a central part of the tradition and likely the most important ceremonial organization of the Dakotas. While some people believe that the Holy Dance is sacred and that the information regarding its subjects should be allowed to die with the last believers, Mniyo believed that these spiritual ceremonies played a key role in maintaining connections with the spirit world and were important aspects of shaping the identity of the Dakota people. 

In The Red Road and Other Narratives of the Dakota Sioux, Daniel Beveridge brings together Mniyo and Goodvoice’s narratives and biographies, as well as songs of the Holy Dance and the pictographic notebooks of James Black (Jim Sapa), to make this volume indispensable for scholars and members of the Dakota community.


Author Bio

Samuel Mniyo (1929–99) (Dakota) was raised in the Wahpeton Dakota Reserve. Robert Goodvoice (1901–86) (Dakota) was a tribal historian (known as a knowledge keeper). Daniel Beveridge is an emeritus assistant professor of education at the University of Regina. 


"The Red Road is a reference, a memoir, a history lesson, and a spiritual journey written for the next generation of the Dakota nation and published for all who are interested to enjoy."—Brandi Hilton-Hagemann, Ethnohistory Journal

"Dakota interested in the complexity of their culture, students of American Indians, and academics who want an example of how to negotiate between folk explanations and conventional historical narrative will all find something of value here. Those interested in the Medicine Dance complex of the Great Lakes will find a treasure."—Paul Eells, Journal of Folklore Research

“This is an important contribution that will appeal to scholarly and general audiences alike, both Native and non-Native. Documenting the oral traditions of four members of the Wahpeton Dakota Nation, The Red Road and Other Narratives of the Dakota Sioux offers unique perspectives on Dakota philosophy and spirituality and contributes to the continuity of Dakota culture, tradition, and identity through time.”—David C. Posthumus, assistant professor of anthropology and Native American studies at the University of South Dakota

“A source book for Dakota culture and spirituality, these carefully curated narratives succeed in fulfilling the wishes of Mniyo, Goodvoice, and others that future generations will benefit from Indigenous knowledge of the complex, changing relationship between ceremony, belief, and life.”—David G. McCrady, author of Living with Strangers: The Nineteenth-Century Sioux and the Canadian-American Borderlands

“In The Red Road and Other Narratives of the Dakota Sioux Samuel I. Mniyo (Sam Buffalo) and Robert Goodvoice record their people’s history and traditional principles for right living, pictured as the Red Road traversed from east to west. Both Elders hoped their detailed descriptions of the Holy Dance, the heart and embodiment of their nation, would enable their younger people to persevere in the ceremony and way of life. Daniel Beveridge’s collation and notes to the narratives bring this true Dakota knowledge to a wide readership.”—Alice B. Kehoe, anthropologist and author of The Ghost Dance: Ethnohistory and Revitalization

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations    
Foreword by David R. Miller    
Editor’s Preface and Acknowledgments    
List of Abbreviations    

Part 1. Editor’s Introduction
The Red Road (Ċaŋkú Dúta) and the Holy Dance (Wak̇áŋ Waċípi)     
Four Strands, One Rope    
Sam Buffalo/Samuel Mniyo    
Dan Beveridge    
Robert Goodvoice    
Jim Sapa/James Black    
The Dakóta Oyáte (Dakota Nation)     
Early Migration Theories    
The Wak̇áŋ Waċípi (Holy Dance) and Ċaŋkú Dúta (Red Road) in Comparative Perspective    
The Wak̇áŋ Waċípi (Holy Dance)    
The Ċaŋkú Dúta (Red Road)    
The Origin of the Medicine Dance (Holy Dance) and the Red Path (1972)     
The Wak̇áŋ Waċípi in Dakota Society    
Origin Stories    
Songs, Song Boards, and Song Sticks    
Organization of the Book    
Note on Editing and Orthography    

Part 2. The Narratives of Samuel Mniyo (Sam Buffalo)
Why and How This Story Was Written    
Four Eras in Isáŋti Dakota History    
Who Taught Me These Stories    
The Era of the Red Road Journey (Tiwópida Oíhduhe)     
The Red Road Journey of the Dakota People, 1977     
The Wak̇áŋ Waċípi Ok̇odakíċiye (Holy Dance Society) and Ċaŋkú Dúta Owíċimani (Red Path Journey), 1965     
The Song Stick (Wak̇áŋ Dowáŋpi), 1966 and 1967     
The Wak̇áŋ Waċípi Ok̇odakíċiye (Holy Dance Society) and Ċaŋkú Dúta Owíċimani (Red Road Journey), 1977     
The Wak̇áŋ Waċípi Ok̇odakiċiye (Holy Dance Society) and Ċaŋkú Dúta Owiċimani (Red Road Journey), 1985
The Wak̇áŋ Waċípi Ok̇odakiċiyepi (Holy Dance Society) and Ċaŋkú Dúta Owiċimani (Red Road Journey), 1997     
The Legend of Corn, 1997 and 1999    
The Dakota Turning Point: The Dakota Divided (Three Versions)     
The Red Road Journey Continues, 1997    
The Circle Power Era (Tiyóti Oíhduhe)     
Changing from the Tiwópida Oíhduhe to the Tiyóti Oíhduhe (part 1)     
Changing from the Tiwópida Oíhduhe to the Tiyóti Oíhduhe (part 2)     
Tiyóti Oíhduhe: The Tiyóti System (The Circle System) in Dakota Society    
The Seven Circles    
The Sacred Hoop: Learning and Teaching over the Life Span    
The Sacred Hoop: Comparing the Tiwópida Oíhduhe and the Tiyóti Oíhduhe    
Learning and Teaching over the Life Span: Belief, Identity, Skills, Attitudes    
Belief: The Story of Kas’ákuwiŋ    
Skills: The Story of Tióde    
Friendship: The Story of Siŋkpé    
Learning and Teaching under the Circle System (continued)     
The Trading and Reserve Era or the Christian Era and Adjusting to Life on Reserves    
Beginning Life on Reserves: Upper Sioux    
The End of the Tiyóti System: The Christian Church as Wópida    
The Minnesota Massacre    
My Family History: How the Isáŋti People Came to Canada    
Chief Whitecap    
The Dakota Bands in Canada; the Little Red River Sioux Camp and the Last Tiyóti Oíhduhe    
The Little Red River Sioux Camp I.R. 94B, the Establishment of Wahpeton Dakota Reserve 94A    
The Present Challenge    
Dakota Elders’ Predictions about Reserve Life; Living Well and Living Disorderly; the Early Promise of Reserve Life    
Rule by Indian Agents, Breakdown of Traditional Practices, Kahómni Dance, Disorganization and Organization, We Live Disorderly, Odákota Is Confused    
The Present Challenge    
Samuel Mniyo’s Own Story    
Three Events in My Early Life Experience    
Visions and Dreams: Four Meetings with My Spiritual Guide    
Sam’s Birth    
Sam and Dan by Daniel M. Beveridge    
Samuel Mniyo’s Time Line by Daniel M. Beveridge    

Part 3. The Narratives of Robert Goodvoice
Traditional History    
Introduction: Learning Traditional Knowledge and Skills from the Older Generations, and the Loss of Culture (part 1)     
The Origin of the Ċaŋkú Dúta (Red Road or Red Path) and Wak̇áŋ Waċípi (Holy Dance or Medicine Dance), 1972 version     
The Origin of the Ċaŋkú Dúta (Red Path) and the Gift of Medicinal Plants, 1977 version     
Becoming a Member of the Ċaŋkú Dúta (Red Path) Society    
Learning Traditional Knowledge, Skills and Medicine from the Older Generations (part 2)     
How the Dakota People Began the Sundance    
Uŋktómi, Dakota Spirit Helper    
Living in the Four Circles, the Tiyótipi, Dividing into Sub-tribes, Moving Northeast    
The Names of the Twelve Months    
Relations with the White Men    
First Contact with Europeans    
The War of 1812: Alliance with the British; Promises and Rewards; Seven Boatloads (Oċéti Ṡakówiŋ); The Medals; Boundary Cairns    
The Treaty of 1851    
The 1862 Dakota War    
Dispersal, and Ṫaċáŋ Iṡóta’s Search for His Parents    
The Kidnapping and Pursuit of Dakota Leaders after 1862    
The Move to Prince Albert    
James McKay, Húpa Iyáḣpeya and the 1876–1877 Trek to the Prince Albert District    
The Wahpeton Chiefs; Ahíyaŋke Obtains Land for Round Plain Reserve in 1893    
How My Grandfather Was Lost and Received Guidance from a Poplar Tree    
People with the Power to Find Things    

Part 4. The Wak̇áŋ Waċípi Songs and Song Stick of Henry Two Bear and the Pictographic Notebooks of James Black (Jim Sapa)
Daniel M. Beveridge
Discovering the Wak̇áŋ Waċípi Dakota Song Stick    
Dan Beveridge
A Prairie Puzzle: The Wakan-Wacipi Dakota Song Stick    
Henry Two Bear: Transcriber of the Songs and Keeper of the Song Stick    
Comments by Samuel Mniyo
Comments by Dan Beveridge
The Henry Two Bear Song Stick or Song Board (Wak̇áŋ Dowáŋpi)     
Dan Beveridge
The Songs of the Wak̇áŋ Waċípi    
Dan Beveridge and Jurgita Antoine
The Songs of the Wak̇áŋ Waċípi (Wak̇aŋ Waċipi Odowaŋ)    
As written down by Henry Two Bear and retranscribed and translated by Jurgita Antoine
Songs Texts in Free Translation    
The Songs: As transcribed by Henry Two Bear    
James Black, Keeper of the Notebooks, and the Last Wak̇áŋ Waċípi Ceremony    
Samuel Mniyo
The Pictographic Notebooks of James Black (Jim Sapa)     
Dan Beveridge
The Images    

Appendix 1. Santee (Eastern Sioux) History Timeline    
Appendix 2. Family History and Family Tree of Sam Buffalo    
Appendix 3. Biographical Sketches    
Appendix 4. Oral History of the Wahpaton Dakota    
Appendix 5. Etude de cas: Une tradition chez les Dakotas     
Appendix 6. Guide to Pronunciation and Orthography    


2021 Scholarly Writing Award in the Saskatchewan Book Awards

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