Traditional Lakota Governance

CAIRNS is working to describe traditional Lakota governance, using ethnographic accounts of Lakota decision-making structures and principles to outline how traditional Lakota society was governed. CAIRNS is also interested in the implications it may have for Lakota organizations and governing bodies today. To explore some of the resources CAIRNS is incorporating for this inquiry yourself, look at our “Governmental Approach Readings” list here.


In May 2015, CAIRNS published an article in the journal Rootstalk: A Prairie Journal of Culture, Science, and The Arts. You can read the full article here.

Above: Entry for “itancan,” in Buechel, Eugene (Ed.). (1970). A Dictionary of the Teton Dakota Sioux Language. Pine Ridge, SD: Red Cloud Indian School.

Left: Detail of Lakota Governance table, from CAIRNS presentation, 2014.