The Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe is located in the northeastern corner of South Dakota and in the southeastern corner of North Dakota on Interstate 29.
Reservation boundaries extend across three counties, each in North and South Dakota. The reservation consists of rolling hills and covers an area over 400 square miles within six counties. Of this area, one third is owned by the Tribe and two-thirds by tribal members.
As river-plains people, the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux farmed and hunted buffalo. Great numbers of miners from many non-Native cultures from the east headed west during the Gold Rush of 1862 forcing the Sisseton-Wahpeton to migrate. The Tribe eventually settled in northeastern South Dakota.
The Act of 1889 divided the Great Sioux Nation into smaller reservations, including the Sisseton Reservation. The reservations created in 1889 amounted to less than half the acreage granted by the treaty to the original Great Sioux Nation.
The Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota are members of the Great Sioux Nation. The Tribe is composed of descendants of the Isanti people. The Isanti is comprised of four bands that lived on the eastern side of the Great Sioux Nation. The Isanti speak the ‘D’ dialect (Dakota) of the Siouan language. They were a river-plains people who did some farming as well as buffalo hunting.
Today, the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe operates under a constitution and is governed by a Tribal Council. The Tribal Council consists of a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary, and seven additional Council members who are elected by the tribal members and serve two-year terms.
The Tribe claims jurisdiction over all right-of-way, waterways, watercourses, and streams running through any part of the reservation under the laws of the United States.
The major economic occupation on the Sisseton-Wahpeton reservation is cattle ranching and farming for a number of Tribal operators.
The Nation also employs a number of people in their plastic bag manufacturing industry. The Tribe operates an irrigated farm, a hunting program for small game, big game and waterfowl. The Tribe also operates the Dakota Sioux Casino and Agency Bingo.
The majority of employment is provided by the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe, Sisseton-Wahpeton Community College, Dakota Sioux Casino, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Indian Health Service.