Inkpaduta was a chief of the Wahpekute Dakota Indian tribe, which roamed the prairies of South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota. The Wahpekute Indian tribe was widely known as a group of outlaws. Inkpaduta’s father’s name was Black Eagle and he was also a chief of the Wahpekute Dakota Indian tribe. Black Eagle had at least two wives, one from the Mdewakanton tribe and another from the Sisseton tribe. Inkpaduta also had two brothers, Sintominiduta, and Napenomnana. He also had one sister. Inkpaduta lived from 1815-1882

    The Wahpekute tribe was the smallest of the Dakota tribes. The tribe had about 550 people. The Wahpekutes were closely related to many other Indian tribes, including the Mdewakantons by the Mississippi River, the Sissetons and the Wahpetons on the Minnesota River. The Wahpekutes roamed the prairies of South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa.

    Inkpaduta’s extreme hatred for whites seemed to be derived from the senseless murdering of his family in 1854 by Henry Lott. Inkpaduta had a very large part in the Minnesota and Dakota Uprisings. The severe winter of 1856-1857 made Inkpaduta even bitterer toward the whites. Inkpaduta’s band had no annuities to fall back on. They survived only on begging and preying on white settlements, and hunting. Matters were made worse by the anger of some white settlers, over the shooting of a dog, which had bitten a member of the tribe. The whites took their weapons, leaving the tribe unable to hunt. Inkpaduta’s band proceeded to retaliate against the whites by slaughtering many white settlers in the area.

    On March 8th and 9th, 1857, Inkpaduta led his band to a murdering spree in the Okoboji and Spirit Lake area in Iowa. The Spirit Lake massacre ended in 35 deaths. From Iowa the Wahpekutes headed north towards Jackson where they killed many more white settlers. In Desperation the Indian office at Washington notified the Minnesota Sioux that they would be held responsible for the acts of Inkpaduta, and that the annuities would not be paid until the culprit was arrested and brought in. Chief Little Crow of the Mdewakanton tribe voluntarily led the futile hunt for the renegade. Soon after Inkpaduta escaped to Dakota Territory and the office in Washington soon withdrew its absurd requirement.

    In 1862 many factors increased the chances of revolt on the whites. One was that many of the whites had left for southern state battlefields. Another was the severe near starvation winter of 1861-1862 brought on by crop failure the previous fall. The third factor was that the arrival of the Indians annuity, goods, and cash was late. The late annuity was probably the most important immediate cause of the Sioux Uprising. There were two reasons that the annuity did not reach the Indians on time. One of the reasons was the tardy action of Congress on appropriating the funds. The other reason was a month long discussion in the treasury department over whether to pay the Indians in paper currency instead of scarce gold. The Indians late annuity did not arrive in St. Paul until August 16th 1862.

    It is certain that Inkpaduta played no part in the Dakota War that started at the Redwood agency on August 18 1862. It has been said that after Inkpaduta heard about the outbreak at the Redwood agency, Inkpaduta and over 40 of his men ventured to Sioux Falls which had been abandoned by the whites. In November many of the settlers returned with a squad of Calvary, and had a skirmish with the Indians. After the skirmish with the whites, Inkpaduta joined up with the White Lodge and the Sleepy Eye Sissetons and they traveled to the west to the Missouri River. By December of 1862 Inkpaduta and the Sissetons were encamped about 100 miles north of Fort Pierre.

    By the early summer of 1863 most of the Santees had all joined up for the winter at Devil’ Lake. Inkpaduta however stayed behind at Long Lake where he and six other Lodges had been hunting buffalo. Later Inkpaduta joined up with chief Standing Bull and his large band of Sissetons. The band learned that a large army was now approaching them, and the band decided to surrender. While Chief Standing Bull was approaching Sibley’s army to surrender, a young member of Inpaduta’s band
shot and killed, Dr. Joseph S. Weiser, a member of the army. This engaged the two parties in Battle. The Dakotas crossed the Missouri River and the whites retreated to the east. In 1864 Inkpaduta went back west of the Missouri. By this time the whole Sioux Nation had been stirred up of war. By 1866 many of the Santees had grown weary and surrendered at the Fort Wadsworth. Inkpaduta on the other hand, knew that there would be no surrendering for him. During the years that the whites were pursuing Inkpaduta’s tribe, he and his tribe roamed the upper Missouri Country, and hunted buffalo in the eastern Montana Region. Inkpaduta and his tribe did lend whatever support they could to the bands under Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse, who fought the soldiers that were guarding the northern pacific Railroad tracklayers, in 1872 and 1873. In 1875 the government stated that if the Sioux did not report to the Missouri River agencies by January 31, 1876, they would be deemed subject for military punishment. That spring many of the tribes began to congregate into southeastern Montana. Inkpaduta as well as the Wahpekutes, Sissetons, and the Yanktonias were among these congregating in southeastern Montana. On June 25th 1876 Colonel George Custer made an approach on the north central part of the camp on the Little Bighorn River and commanded Major Marcus Reno to attack the southern end of the camp. Many Indian accounts indicate that the Custer attack had failed immediately, because Custer was the first to be shot, leaving the rest of the soldiers with no commander. Reno was driven back into being in a defensive position to protect himself. Inkpaduta apparently remained with Chief Sitting Bull’s tribe after the battle. During the following months there were several more battles with the soldiers, and many of the Sioux and the Cheyenne surrendered. In May of 1877 Inkpaduta, Sitting Bull, and Sitting Bull’s tribe moved over the northern medicine line, which was the border of Canada and the United States.

    Inkpaduta’s death ended in twenty plus years of hostile battles with the whites. The Sioux considered Inkpaduta an elderly patriot, and distinguishing veteran of many battles with the whites. Despite Inkpaduta’s lack of participation in the war in Minnesota, his name has remained linked to it because the war was partially caused by the failure of the Government to punish Inkpaduta for the Spirit Lake Massacres.


The Sioux Uprising of 1862, by Kenneth Carley

Famous Chiefs of the Eastern Sioux, by Mark Diedrich

Created by,

Clinton Engen

December 17,1999