Life in a Sioux tribe prior to reservation life was simplistic and family-centered. Wanderers of the plains, members of the Sioux tribe traveled the vast expanse of the northern plains, following the herds of buffalo they were so heavily dependent on for survival. Each member of the Sioux tribe was subject to their specific duty and it was their responsibility to serve the tribe well.
The customs of the Sioux tribe were deeply rooted in their heritage. They were deeply spiritual, offering prayer in six directions. Men of the Sioux tribe often prayed in solitude for days at a time. Members of the Sioux tribe prayed to Wakan Tanka or the Great Spirit, the spirit of the East, West, North and South, Mother Earth, and to the Six Directions, which represents the unity of all spirits as one.
The Sioux tribe depended greatly on the buffalo. The primary social unit within the Sioux tribe was the tiyospe, like an extended family, they traveled together following the herds. The hunting parties of the Sioux tribe were careful not to kill more buffalo than they needed. Every part of the buffalo was used for food, clothing, tools, and even shelter.
Today, the Sioux live on reservations in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Montana and Nebraska, though many Sioux live in urban areas. Tribal elders make a concerted effort to pass along traditions of the Sioux tribe to its youth. Present day Sioux are highly active in the Native American civil rights and have been particularly active in the American Indian Movement (AIM), a civil rights group devoted to protesting treatment of the American Indian. In 1973, AIM seized the community of Wounded Knee for over two months demanding the U.S. Senate investigate poor and abusive treatment of Native Americans on reservations.