Lakota Begin Annual Hunt: Camp Readies for the Chase

Near the Missouri River, 1800

The camp council has just decided that the time for the camp buffalo hunt has come and it has appointed the four akcita who will organize and lead the hunt. All at once the camp is buzzing with activity. The men are packing away their way equipment and are preparing their hunting weapons, the bows and arrows, and are overhauling their riding gear. The women are busy repairing tipis and wardrobes and are planning everything for packing and conveyance. The spiritual leaders are making medicines and performing ceremonies to assure a successful hunt.

The decision to begin the annual hunt has taken several days. The hunt must be planned for a time when grazing is good and the buffalo are likely to be fat. Four days ago a spiritual leader experienced a vision that was favorable to the hunt. The camp council then deliberated upon the questions of when to start, what route to go, what territory to hunt, and who should be appointed akcitas, the four men who have complete control over the hunt.

Camp will break tomorrow morning after breakfast. The akcita hope to travel ten to twenty miles each day. Each night tipis will be raised near water. The hunting may take place as far away as 200 miles. When scouts notify the akcita that they are near a buffalo herd, the men will ride out for the hunt and the women will ready themselves for preparation of the meat and skins.

The buffalo hunt must be successful for the Lakota to survive the winter. The buffalo is their main food supply. Everyone must work together. When the meat is dried, the council decides whether there is sufficient food supply for the year. If not, the Lakota will repeat the hunt. If so, the council will announce where winter camp will be. Although most people will stay with the camp, some may choose to leave until winter camp times.


By Dr. D. Jerome Tweton


Originally published as The North Star Dakotan student newspaper, written by Dr. D. Jerome Tweton and supported by the North Dakota Humanities Council.

Subject Matter

Social Studies

North Star Dakotan:

Journals and Art Work: The Indian People, The Trade, and The Land

The Indian People

The Purchase and Exploration of Louisiana

The Fur Trade

Dakota Territory

The Military Frontier

The Reservation System

George Armstrong Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn

The Great Dakota Boom, 1878-1890

Reservation Troubles, 1886-1890

The Making of a State and a Constitution

The North Dakota Economy, 1890-1915

Life on the Indian Reservations

The North Dakota National Guard and the Philippines

North Dakota, The Great War and After

The Nonpartisan League's Rise to Power

The Nonpartisan League in Power

The Nonpartisan League's Decline

The 1920s

1930s: North Dakota's Economic and Political Climate

The New Deal in North Dakota

The Road to World War II

North Dakota and American Society

North Dakota Optimism and Economic Developments

North Dakota and Political Change