The Red Road and Other Narratives of the Dakota Sioux

The Red Road and Other Narratives of the Dakota Sioux

Samuel I. 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

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


February 2020


$75.00 Pre-order

About the Book

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 I. 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 M. Beveridge is an emeritus assistant professor of education at the University of Regina. 


“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
Part 1. Editor’s Introduction
The Red Road (Ċaŋkú Dúta) and the Holy Dance (Wak̇áŋ Waċípi)
The Dakóta Oyáte (the greater Sioux Nation)
Four Strands, One Rope
Sam Buffalo/Samuel Mniyó
Dan Beveridge
Robert Goodvoice
Jim Sápa/James Black
The Wak̇áŋ Waċípi (Holy Dance) and Ċaŋkú Dúta (Red Road) in Comparative Perspective
The Origin of the Medicine Dance (Holy Dance) and the Red Path (1972)
The Wak̇áŋ Waċípi
Origin Stories
Songs, song boards and song sticks
Organization of the Book
Note on Editing and Orthography
Why and How This Story Was Written
Four Eras in Isáŋti Dakota History
Who Taught Me These Stories
Long, Long, Long Ago: The Era of the Red Road Journey (Wópida)
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 (May 31, 1997 and July, 1999)
The Dakota Turning Point: The Dakota Divided (Three Versions)
The Red Road Journey Continues (1997)
Long, Long Ago: 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 (continued)
Long Ago: The Christian Era and Adjusting to Life on Reserves or The Trading and Reserve Era
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. 94 B, the Establishment of Wahpeton Dakota Reserve 94A
The Ghost Dance: lingering influence of the Ċaŋkú Dúta (Red Road)
The Present Challenge
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
Samuel Mniyó’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 Dan Beveridge)
Sam Mniyó’s Time Line (By Dan Beveridge)
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 (1978 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 North-east
The Names of the 12 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 Divine Guidance from a Poplar Tree
People with the power to find things (RG 1977, 4)
Editor’s Introduction
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
By Sam Mniyo
By Dan Beveridge
The Henry Two Bear Song Stick or Song Board (Dowáŋpi) by Dan Beveridge
The Songs of the Wak̇áŋ Waċípi
Editor’s Introduction
The Songs of the Wak̇áŋ Waċípi
Wak̇aŋ Waċipi Odowaŋ
Photo 1
Photo 2
Photo 3
Photo 4
Photo 5
The Songs: As transcribed by Henry Two Bear
James Black, Keeper of the Notebooks, and the Last Wak̇áŋ Waċípi Ceremony. by Samuel Mniyó
The Pictographic Notebooks of James Black (Jim Sápa). by Dan Beveridge
Editor’s Introduction
The Images
APPENDIX 1-Santee (Eastern) Sioux History Timeline
APPENDIX 2-Family History/Family Trees: Sam Buffalo
APPENDIX 3-Biographical Sketches
APPENDIX 4–Oral History of the Wahpaton Dakota
APPENDIX 5–ETUDE DE CAS: Une tradition chez les Dakotas (Case Study: A Tradition of the Dakotas)
APPENDIX 6–Guide to Pronunciation and Orthography

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