Makxoche Washte, The Beautiful Country: A Lakota Landscape Map by Dakota W. Goodhouse, Historian and Artist

Makxoche Washte, The Beautiful Country: A Lakota Landscape Map
Rivers and streams are pinned at confluences. The only exception is the Mnishoshe (The Water-Astir; Missouri River), which is pinned at the mouth of that stream, which is the Gulf of Mexico; according to Blue Thunder, it is the Mississippi River which converges with the Missouri River.

According to Jon Eagle, Sr., Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Lakxota traveled from water source to water source across the Great Plains. “They followed the buffalo, even as the buffalo followed the stars,” said Eagle. (Eagle, Sept. 30, 2018).

Makxoche Washte (The Good, or Beautiful Country): This is what the Dakota and Lakota people called the Great Plains, and by extension, North America. According to the late Lakxota elder Delores Taken Alive, the Lakxota called the Great Plains, and by extension North America, Makxoche Luta (The Red Country). According to Lekshi Virgil Taken Alive, the Great Plains, and by extension North America, can also be called Makxoche Chaŋuŋpa (Country of The Pipe). The council of elders on Standing Rock offered another ancient name of Makxoche Owanase Txaŋka (The Country of The Great Hunting Grounds). According to Lekshi Joseph Marshall III, the Great Plains, and by extension North America, can also be called Uŋtipi Kiŋ El (Where We Live). Chief Standing Bear referred to the Great Plains as Waŋbli Gleshka Txamakxoche (Land of The Spotted Eagle). The New Lakota Dictionary lists an entry regarding the Great Plains as Oblaye Makxoche (The Plains Country). Rev. Dr. Clifford Canku uses the term Makxoche Ochokaŋhe (The Center of the Land where They Live). Another term, Makxoche Wakxaŋ (Sacred Country) can be found in Joshua Horowitz’ dissertation titled “Nakona wasnonya yuhabi/Assiniboine knowledge keepers : Indigenous archiving from the 19th into the 21st Centuries,” 2014, page 82.

Awaŋkatuyala (“It Is Somewhat Higher”): this is what the Lakota call the High Plains Region.

The “Custer” route to the Black Hills was/is called: Chaŋku Wamanuŋpi (The Thieves Road).

The Bozeman Trail was/is called: Makxablu Wakpa Chaŋku (Powder River Road). Red Cloud’s War closed this trail.

The Oregon Trail was/is called: Chaŋku Wakxaŋ Shkhe Kiŋ (The Road That Is Reported To Be Sacred). The Lakota were told that the Great White Father would know if travelers were attacked and so the Lakota wondered if the road were somehow holy, that he would know. Prior to 1851, they called it Chaŋku Washichu (White Man Road). This second term also referred to the California Trail.

Blue markers are lakes, rivers, forks, confluences, and springs.

Red markers are conflict sites between the Lakxota and US military.

Green markers are landmarks, hills, mountains, ranges, and buttes.

In the post-reservation era, the Huŋkpapxa liked to cross the Missouri River from Fort Yates to Winona (Cattail Creek), then up to Long Lake, then to Wagon Wheel Hill, to Hawk’s Nest, and up to Bourette Crossing, and back again.

The traditional Lakxota homeland was the Northern Great Plains in a concentration on the plains west of the Missouri River. According to the oral tradition of the late Albert White Hat Sr., the Lakxota traveled as far south as to see monkeys in Central America and returned to tell their relatives.

Chief Luther Standing Bear said that the first man, Txokaheya, sprang from the soil. At first only his head was above the earth, facing the sun, but as the sun shone down, Txokaheya drew himself up out of the earth strong and free. From Txokaheya came the Lakxota people. Ever since Txokaheya emerged from the soil, facing the sun, the Lakxota set their homes facing east. The only lodge that was the exception was the one from which scouts departed, the door faced their direction and a fire was kept burning to guide them home.

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