Native American (Lakota) Culture

Culture is defined as the established beliefs, social norms, customs and traditions of a group of people. The same is true for Native American culture. Factors like geography, history and generations of spirituality, stories and traditions also shape the culture of any given tribe or people. Native Americans are no exception.

Here at St. Joseph’s Indian School, we have had the privilege of working with Native American families and communities since 1927. In 1991, the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center was established on our campus to honor and preserve the historical artifacts and contemporary art that tell the story of the Lakota (Sioux) people of the Northern Plains.

Native American culture is sometimes thought of as a thing of the past. However, contemporary powwows, art and language revitalization efforts tell a different story.

This section introduces historical information about Native American culture — specifically the Lakota — as well as ways this rich culture is being lived and shared today.

Oceti SakowinSeven Council Fires

What is known today as the Great Sioux Nation is made up of the bands and dialects of the Seven Council Fires or Oceti Sakowin, in Lakota.

Read more about Oceti SakowinSeven Council Fires.

Beliefs and Traditions

What a person believes shapes the way they live their lives, make decisions and plan for the future. Traditions and customs are the backbone of any culture.

Read more about Lakota Beliefs and Traditions.

Seven Lakota Rites

Long ago, the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Woman came to Earth and gave the Lakota people a Sacred Pipe and a small round stone. These two gifts would be used for the Seven Lakota Rites.

Read more about the Seven Lakota Rites.


A wačhípipowwow — is a Native American gathering focused on dance, song and celebration. Powwows celebrate the connections to tradition and spirituality, to the Earth and to one another in a social, personal and spiritual meeting.

Read more about the Lakota powwow.

Lakota Legends

Lakota history was passed from generation to generation through the beautiful art of storytelling. Several legends are still remembered and passed down today.

Read more about Lakota Legends.

Lakota Language

Preserving and sharing the Lakota culture is a core part of our mission at St. Joseph’s Indian School and traditional Lakota language is a vital part of that effort. Like many other indigenous languages around the world, Lakota is in danger of being permanently lost.

Read more about Lakota Language.

Important Animals

There are animals that are considered relatives to the Lakota people. Among them are the winged, four-legged and reptile nation.

Read more about Important Animals.

Native American Books

Cultural education is important for students and staff at St. Joseph’s. Check out some of our favorite Native American books and authors.

Read more about Native American Books.