Kul Wicasa Oyate -- Lower Brule Sioux Tribe
We are a large group of Tiospaye (extended families) within the Tetonwan (Lakota) Nation who identify as Sicangu (burnt thighs). Long ago the Sicangu divided into the Kul Wicasa Oyate (lower people) and the Heyata Wicasa Oyate (uplands people). Our Kul Wicasa ancestors favored lands where the Maka Izita Ska (White River) empties into the Mni Sose (Missouri River), while the Heyata Wicasa lived higher up towards the Paha Sapa (Black Hills). In the 18th century, when French traders began to interact with our people, they translated our Sicangu name into French and began calling us the Brûlées. This is how we eventually became known as the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe.
Our homeland has no formal boundaries. For thousands of years we have lived in the grasslands and river valleys between the Rocky Mountains and the Great Lakes - in recent centuries, west from the Missouri River in present-day South Dakota to the Platte River, in Nebraska, to the Yellowstone River in Wyoming and Montana, to the edge of the forests in Minnesota south of the Great Lakes.
Soon after the first agents of the United States government traveled through Lower Brule lands in 1804, our world drastically changed. Between 1825 and 1962, the US government forced our people to make ‘treaties’ and ‘agreements’ that resulted in the loss of most of our territory. As recently as the 1950s and 1960s, the construction of two huge dams along the Missouri River in South Dakota flooded most of our forests, hunting, fishing and gathering grounds, agricultural lands, and settlements, creating the Lake Sharpe and Lake Francis Case reservoirs.
As we walk along the paths of our ancestors, we Lower Brule people are strong and resilient, and so we continue to work hard to protect and preserve our culture and return to our traditional self-sufficiency in this modern world.