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Oglala Sioux - South Dakota (U.S.)

Native American

Last modified: 2022-10-14 by rick wyatt
Keywords: oglala sioux | sioux | south dakota | native american |
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[Oglala Sioux - South Dakota flag] image by Donald Healy, 20 January 2008

See also:

The Band

[Oglala Sioux map]
map image by Peter Orenski based on input from Don Healy

Oglala Sioux - South Dakota

The Lakota of the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwest South Dakota (Oglala) have one of the best-known Indian tribal flags. They have also given the Sioux, and the United States, two of the most famous Indian leaders: Chief Red Cloud and Chief Crazy Horse (ENAT, 222-228).

Donald Healy 2008

The Flag

The Oglala flag's red field symbolizes the blood shed by the Sioux in defense of their lands and the very idea of the "red men". A circle of eight white tepees, tops pointing outward, represents the eight districts of the reservation: Porcupine, Wakpammi, Medicine Root, Pass Creek, Eagle Nest, White Clay, LaCreek, and Wounded Knee (FBUS, 260-262). When used indoor or in parades, the flag is decorated with a deep-blue fringe to incorporate the colors of the United States into the design.

The flag was first displayed at the Sun Dance ceremonies in 1961 and officially adopted on 9 March 1962. Since then it has taken on a larger role, perhaps because of its age, clear design, and universal symbolism. The Oglala flag is now a common sight at Native American powwows, not just Sioux gatherings, and is often flown as a generic Native American flag.

In the late 1960s or early 1970s, another flag apparently represented the Oglala Sioux (clipping in the collection of the Flag Research Center). That flag has a light background bearing a red warrior's shield, which depicts what may be a thunderbird. A pair of upward-pointing spears crosses behind the shield to form an "X". "OGLALA SIOUX" appears above the shield and "NATION" below. (No other references to this flag have been found.)

Donald Healy 2008
information provided by Peter Orenski, 20 January 2008

The Oglala Lakota (Oglala Sioux) of Pineridge, South Dakota have a flag with eight white tipis arranged in a circle, bases inward so they form a star, on a red field. The eight tipis each represent one of the districts of Pineridge where the seven tiyospayes (family groups, bands) settled after being interned on Pineridge in ~ 1890 by the U.S. government. They are arranged in a hocoka, camp circle. The circle is significant of unity and continuity. The red color has many significant spiritual connotations. It is the color of the paint used to decorate the face and hair parting in ceremonies. It is the color of the cloth used to wrap offerings to Wankantanka, God. It is the color that designates the direction north. An especially great day or holy day is a red day. To walk the good red road is to lead a morally upstanding life.

The four directions are always referred to in a specific order: West, North, East and South. The colors Black, Red, Yellow and White are respectively assigned to the directions, and also appear in that same order. In the 1970's it was said that they represented the four races of mankind (mixed together they become brown), but generally that idea is not considered to be traditional, rather a coincidence or modern fancy. The colors Blue and Green represent the heavens and the earth respectively.
Dax Damon, 29 May 1999

Variants of the flag

[Oglala Sioux - South Dakota flag] image by Eugene Ipavec, 20 May 2012

[Oglala Sioux - South Dakota flag] image located by Vanya Poposki, 18 May 2012

[Oglala Sioux - South Dakota flag] image located by Vanya Poposki, 18 May 2012

Flags 1 and 2 are similar, but one has "SIOUX" and one has "LAKOTA" written on it. Flag 3 came with a white-black-white edge. The outer white edge was pure white before I cleaned it, whereas the inner white was not 255-255-255, so I think that outer white was part of the page it came from. It is not clear to me if the thin black edge is part of the flag, or a frame for it. The white inside the black frame had the same RGB values as the white of the tepees.
Rob Raeside, 18 May 2012