Lake Traverse Indian Reservation

The Lake Traverse Indian Reservation is the homeland of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, a branch of the Santee Dakota group of Native Americans. The reservation is located in parts of five counties in extreme northeastern South Dakota and parts of two counties in southeastern North Dakota, United States. Over 60 percent of its land area lies in Roberts County, South Dakota, but there are lesser amounts in Marshall, Day, Grant, and Codington counties in South Dakota, as well as Sargent and Richland counties in North Dakota. Its resident population of 10,408 persons was counted during the 2000 census. About one-third of its inhabitants claim to be of solely Native American heritage. Its largest community is the city of Sisseton, South Dakota.

Lake Traverse Indian Reservation
Location in North Dakota and South Dakota
TribeSisseton Wahpeton Oyate
CountryUnited States
StatesNorth Dakota
South Dakota
HeadquartersAgency Village
  BodyTribal Council
  ChairmanDonovan White
  Vice-ChairmanFloyd Kirk Jr.
  SecretaryMyrna Thompson

Tribal information

  • Reservation: Former Lake Traverse; parts of Marshall, Day, Codington, Grant and Roberts Counties
  • Division: Santee
  • Bands: Sisseton (Sinsin Tunwan: "Swamp Village"), Wahpeton (Wahpetowan: "Leaf Village")
  • Land area: 106,153 acres (without boundaries)
  • Tribal headquarters: Agency Village, SD
  • Time zone: Central
  • Traditional language: Dakota
  • Enrolled members living within former reservation area: 9,894
  • Major employers: Dakota Magic Casino, Dakota Sioux Casino, Dakota Western, Dakota Crossing Grocery, Dakota Connection Casino, tribal government, Bureau of Indian Affairs

Tribal government

  • Charter: None; Constitution and Bylaws: Yes -IRA
  • Date Approved: October 16, 1946
  • Name of Governing Body: Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribal Council
  • Number of council members: (7) seven council members
  • Dates of Constitutional amendments: November 21, 1978, June 9, 1980
  • Number of Executive Officers: (3) Tribal Chairman, Vice Chairman, and Tribal Secretary

Tribal elections

  • Primary election is held in October and the General in November. Members of Council shall serve terms of four years. Any Council and Executive Committee member shall serve no more than two (2) consecutive terms for a total of eight (8) years in the same office. Any Council member or Executive Committee member may again file for office after a two (2) year time period.
  • Number of Election districts or communities: 10

Tribal Council meetings

  • The Council shall meet regularly on the first Tuesday, Wednesday and third Thursday of each month or upon call of the Chairman of the Council.
  • Quorum number: General Council members is ten percent of eligible members

Education and media

  • Tribal College: Sisseton-Wahpeton Community College, Sisseton, SD
  • Weekly newspaper: Sota Iya Ye Yapi (smoke signals)

Famous leaders

  • Darlene Renville Pipeboy is an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate. Her grandfather, Joseph Renville, was among those who befriended French mapmaker, Joseph Nicollet. Today, Pipeboy volunteers at the Nicollet Tower near Sisseton. "Being a Dakota, a twin and a woman is my identity," Pipeboy says. "Those three things are important today and traditionally."
  • Paul War Cloud, (1930–1973) a Sisseton-Wahpeton, was born in 1930 near Sica Hollow. A self-taught artist, War Cloud realistically depicted Dakota culture and tradition in his paintings. Many of his works are on display at the Tekakwitha Fine Arts Center in Sisseton. A War Cloud mural, "Unity Through the Great Spirit," hangs at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. War Cloud died in 1973.
  • Gabriel Renville (1824–1892) was the last chief of the Sissetowan and Wahpetowan (non-hereditary). Born in Chief Sweet Corn's village on Lake Traverse, he was born into the Rainville/Renville clan—a family of French and Dakota origins operating a trading post in Minnesota. His appointment as chief in 1866 was seconded by the Sisseton-Wahpeton in 1867.



  1. "Tribal Council". Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  2. 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. "My Tribal Area". United States Census Bureau.

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