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These online materials are intended to serve as a resource about the Mni Wakan Oyate, from their origin to contemporary society. Written in cooperation with the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, the material presents a generalized overview about the history and culture of the Mni Wakan Oyate for teachers, students, and the general public of North Dakota. This is done with the hope that readers will develop a better understanding about the people of Spirit Lake and their role in the history of North Dakota.

Most of the research for the development of the History and Culture of the Mni Wakan Oyate was provided from several significant resources made available through the Minnesota Historical Society, the State Historical Society of North Dakota, books and materials on the Dakota and from interviews with elders and Indian educators on the Spirit Lake Reservation.

The following is a list of those who contributed their time and knowledge in the development of this information. This list is not limited to those whose names are mentioned here, but to those people who committed their time to the first document, including those not present who believed strongly enough in preserving the history and cultures of their people.


This curriculum for The History and Culture of the Mni Wakan Oyate was originally organized by Cheryl M. Kulas, former Director of Indian Education at the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. Cheryl Kulas also served as the Executive Director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission, 2001–2009.

In 2009, the North Dakota Studies Program and the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission collaborated to make the curriculum resources available online at North Dakota Studies.

  • Neil Howe, North Dakota Studies Program Coordinator
  • Cassie Theurer, Web Designer


  • Louis Garcia, Dakota Researcher and Honorary Tribal Historian, Tokio, North Dakota
  • Lenore G. Lambert, Curriculum Specialist, Little Hoop Community College
  • Vernon G. Lambert, Writer and School Board Member, Four Winds School, Fort Totten
  • Paul Little (deceased), Archivist and Tribal Elder, Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe
  • Douglas W. Sevigny, Tribal Planner
  • Ila McKay, Tribal Planner
  • Lorraine Greybear, Dakota Language Instructor, Tate Topa Elementary School


  • Alvina Alberts, A council of elders representing the Spirit Lake Tribe


  • Priscilla Cavanaugh, Title VII—Bilingual Education Resource Teacher and Tribal Member
  • Jeanne Cavanaugh, Title VII—Bilingual Education Resource Teacher
  • Dennis Brusven, Social Studies Teacher, Four Winds High School
  • Susan Hultgren, English Teacher, Four Winds High School
  • Earlwin Bullhead, Dakota Language Instructor

A special thanks to Lenore Alberts for her coordination with the Spirit Lake Tribal Council and the Curriculum Committee.