The Siouan languages are spoken in the USA and Canada by a total
of some 23,000 people. There is considerable mutual intelligibility
between the Lakota and Dakota languages, but relatively limited
mutual intellibility between the other Siouan languages.
The name "Sioux" is a French version of the Ojibwa word nadewisou,
which means "treacherous snakes". The native names for the Sioux mean
"An Alliance of Friends", which is Dakhota in the Santee dialect,
Nakhota in the Yankton dialect and Lakhota in the Teton dialect.
There are a number of different spellings of these names.
Siouan languages include:
Lakota (Lakhóta), spoken by about 9,000 people in seven tribes,
the Oglala, in the US states of Northern Nebraska, southern Minnesota, North and South
Dakota and northeastern Montana, and also in Canada
Western Dakota (Dakhóta), spoken by a few hundred people in
two tribes: the Yankton and Yanktonai.
Eastern Dakota (Dakhóta), spoken by a few hundred people in
four tribes: the Santee, Sisseton, Wahpeton and Wahpekute.
The two Nakoda languages (Assiniboi and Stoney) are not considered part of
the "Sioux" language as they are not mutually intelligible or politically
affiliated with the Sioux. They do belong to the Siouan language family,
as do many other languages.
The first alphabet for Sioux, known as Riggs, was devised by the
missionaries Samuel and Gideon Pond, Stephen Return Riggs and Dr Thomas S.
Williamson in 1834. They based their spelling system on the Santee dialect
(Dakota) and used it to translate biblical texts into that dialect. The Dakota
translation of the bible was well known and used among the Dakota and Lakota.
A revised version of this system was used in Riggs' Dakota Grammar, published
in 1852, and in his Dakota-English dictionary, published in 1890. Since then
a number of other Lakota and Dakota spelling systems have been devised, details
of which can be found at:
Hećeś hokśila wan kunśitku kićilaḣći
ti śke. Yunkan anpetu wan el kunśitku kin ćanḳin iyaya
ćanke hokśila kin iśnala tiyata yanke ćin ićunhan
hitunkala wan taku yaḳoġa-han ća naḣun keye.
Ḳeyaś he winuḣćala kin woyute mahel yuha kin hokśila
kin hehanhunniyan slolye śni keye. Ho, tka wana le naḣun kin un
wole yunkan wasna wan lila waśte kunśitku kin gnaka ća he e
ća hitunkala kin yuta-han keye.
Part of a story called "Turtle Moccasin Boy" written down by Ella Deloria
and in the Riggs 1852 orthography
Each and every man and woman is free and has equal rights to things. They are sure
of themselves in their mind, and they should treat each other as if they were siblings.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with
reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights