North America: A Lakota Perspective


This map shows Lakota Territory as defined by the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie between the United States government and the Lakota in relation to the rest of North America, or Khéya Wíta, meaning “Turtle Island” in Lakota.

Khéya Wíta – North America (Turtle Island)
Osní Makȟóčhe – Alaska (Cold Land)
Uŋčíyapi Makȟóčhe – Canada (Grandmother’s [Queen Victoria’s] Land)
Lakȟóta Makȟóčhe – Lakota Country (Lakota’s Land)
Mílahaŋska Tȟamákȟočhe‎ – The United States of America (Long Knives’ Land)
Spaóla Makȟóčhe‎ – Mexico (Mexican’s Land)
Tȟuŋkášila Othí – Washington DC (Grandfather [The President] Dwelling)
Spaóla Otȟúŋwahe – Mexico City (Mexican’s City)

* Note on the compass – South is oriented at the top, a Lakota custom according to Dakȟóta Tȟaté from the Standing Rock Reservation. In this medicine wheel, North is represented as white. This is how Darrell Red Cloud, an Oglala Lakota friend of mine, designates the colors on the wheel, but he says that other medicine men may do it differently.

Map: Jordan Engel. As always, the Decolonial Atlas’ original media can be reused under the Decolonial Media License 0.1.



  1. I appreciate that mile was translated to makhiyuthapi, but I have been wondering how the Lakota measured or discussed distances before colonization. Any information you can share?


  2. Why do most Great Plains tribes fail to include their homeland prior to Europeans pushing Anishinabe to the west who then pushed other tribes farther west?


  3. how the medicine wheel is arranged and what it represents depends on which nation you’re asking. its not like medicine folks just pick what feels good to them, its based on tradition not whim. just clarifying


  4. It’s amazing how blinded I can be by unconscious bias. It’s very humbling when things come into focus.

    I stared at that map for a few seconds, not recognizing the North American continent, because it was “upside down.” I though this was a map of some small part of the Great Lakes!

    Thank you for sharing this. 🙂


  5. It’s interesting to notice how different it feels just to mentally rotate myself to orient toward the south rather than the north. Then I had to physically rotate my body to face south. It makes my feet cold.

    I love this blog, btw. Very powerful.

    Liked by 1 person

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