About Oceti Ŝakowiŋ - The Seven Council Fires

Beginning in 2011, and funded by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, the Oceti Ŝakowiŋ Seven Council Fires digitization project and webpage were developed in consultation with Dakota partners. The ultimate outcome of this project was to digitize and review the approximately 1,000 items of material culture associated Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota (all formerly, and sometimes still, identified as "Sioux") and make them available on the Society's online database, Collections Online.

In addition to increasing accessibility, especially to people who cannot visit the History Center, the project's explicit goals were to be completely transparent; to share with the public, in an easily understood way, all information about this material culture in the collections; and to solicit feedback from knowledgeable community members in order to present the material in the most accurate way.

This project cast a wide net in the interests of inclusiveness and in hopes of gathering more information. It includes both items made or used and possibly made or used by Dakota individuals or communities. Possibly in the preceding sentence is of great importance. Given the goal of publishing records with all available information, staff made no judgments to exclude items based on aesthetics or stylistic techniques. Sometimes the records hold very little information, especially for items that have been in the collections for nearly a century and a half. Simply put, if a catalog record contained the word Sioux or Dakota, as well as any of the cultural division names, it was digitized and included. In the past, the term Dakota was used academically to identify all divisions of the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota, and some museum records may reflect that outdated usage.