noun pl. Nakota
b. The Souian language spoken by the Assiniboin.
a. A member of the branch of the Sioux composed of the Yankton and Yanktonai. No longer in scholarly use.
b. The dialect of Dakota spoken by the Yankton and Yanktonai. No longer in scholarly use.
In their own language, the Yankton and Yanktonai peoples use the word dakhota
represents an aspirated k
) to refer to the ethnic group to which they belong. In the 1800s, English-speaking Christian missionaries in the territories of the Lakota and Dakota erroneously thought that the Yankton and Yanktonai peoples called themselves Nakota.
This error was based on the fact that in some words where the Lakota language has an l
sound, as in mila,
“knife,” Dakota has an n
, as in mina,
“knife.” The missionaries mistakenly assumed that this correspondence applied everywhere—since the Lakota called themselves Lakota,
the Yankton and Yanktonai must call themselves Nakota.
The error unfortunately became widespread, and only in recent decades have attempts been made to rectify it in English-language discussions of these peoples. In fact, another people speaking a Siouan language, the Assiniboin, do call themselves nakhota
in their own language. However, the Assiniboin nation has not traditionally been considered part of the Sioux nation, and the language of the Assiniboin is not mutually intelligible with either Lakota or Dakota.