Community Profile: Sisseton, South Dakota

By Emily Anderson

Sisseton is a city of 2,470 people situated in northeastern South Dakota on the Lake Traverse Reservation. The reservation is home to the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate—the word “Oyate” means “people” or “nation” in the Dakota language—which includes more than 10,400 members of the Sisseton and Wahpeton bands of Dakota people. The Dakota people are a subdivision of the Sioux, who are native people of Iowa, Minnesota, and the Dakotas. The reservation that became the present day home of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate was established in 1851 by the Treaty of Traverse de Sioux. Today, the community of Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate keeps the Dakota language, culture, art forms, and spiritual traditions alive through a tribal school, tribal newspaper, and cultural events such as the 4th of July Wacipi (“pow wow”), which has been celebrated annually since 1867.

Map of Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate
IMG_0600” by Flickr User Hillary CC BY-SA 2.0

Fun Fact

The French geographer, astronomer, and mathematician Jean-Joseph Nicollet mapped much of the Upper Mississippi River Basin in the 19th century. In 1991, a 75-foot observation tower was constructed in Sisseton to honor his work and life. From the observation tower, it’s possible to see three states: Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota. The viewer can also see the Laurentian continental divide, a valley carved from a glacier 40,000 years ago, and the Couteau des Prairies, a 200-mile-long plateau of prairie.

Nicollet Tower
IMG_0602” by Flickr User Hillary, CC BY-SA 2.0

Community Partner

The Sisseton Arts Council is the community partner in South Dakota for the 2013–2015 season of Arts Midwest World Fest. Formally established in 1986 with the goal of enriching life in their community through the arts, the Arts Council grew out of a group of volunteers who had been hosting arts events in Sisseton since 1980. Among their many successes, in May 2012 the Arts Council celebrated 30 consecutive years of hosting residencies with the Missoula Children’s Theatre. For their work with Arts Midwest World Fest, the Sisseton Arts Council has chosen to offer the public concerts free of charge, reflecting the values of their community.

Residency Dates

Le Vent Du Nord: November 3-9, 2013
Baladino: March 2-8, 2014
Paulo Padilha & Group: September 28 – October 4, 2014
Shanren: Spring 2015


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