Oceti Sakowin

From Anarchy In Action
Sioux social structure council fires.jpg

The Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires) is a confederation of Lakota Dakota and Nakota speaking peoples. Their traditional social structure is egalitarian and consensus-based. Their traditional land, much of it unceded territory, includes much of what's now known as North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Nebraska. The Oceti Sakowin have been at the forefront of many decolonization and land defense struggles including Red Cloud's War, the Alcatraz occupation, American Indian Movement, 2007 Lakota declaration of independence, and Standing Rock Uprising.

Indian Country Today reports:

Like many tribes, the Oceti Sakowin operated and thrived as an egalitarian society, where both women and men occupied esteemed roles in the community. Women of the Oceti Sakowin were affirmed through creation stories, ceremonies, and daily activities. Stories centered on female figures, like that of Pte Sa Win, the White Buffalo Calf Woman, informed the Oceti Sakowin of foundational cultural teachings, including how and why women must be respected.[1]

The website North Dakota Studies summarizes the Oceti Sakowin's consensus-based decision-making traditions:

Among the Dakota and Lakota the headmen guided the people; they did not order people around. The position of a headman was not permanent. A man served at the will of the people, and if a man did not prove to be a good leader he was replaced. Decision-making was by consensus, all members of the tiyospaye contributed their input and a collective accord was reached. The process of achieving consensus insured all the people had a say in decision-making. Initially the men came together to discuss a matter; then they returned home and discussed it with their families; then at a later time the men reconvened to discuss the issue again. Although women did not customarily attend council meetings, their ideas and input were solicited and represented. This pattern would repeat until everyone was able to agree on a direction to take.[2]