Thomas Wakeman

Last updated
Thomas Wakeman
Wowinape (to take refuge)

Sioux Reservation
DiedJanuary 13, 1886(1886-01-13) (aged 39–40)
Spouse(s)Judith Minnetonka
Parent(s) Little Crow

Thomas Wakeman (Sioux: Wowinape) (1846 January 13, 1886) was a Native American who organized the first Sioux Indian YMCA. [1] [2] Over the years, 66 Sioux associations have been founded with over 1000 members. [1] As of 2000, Sioux YMCAs, under the leadership of a Lakota Board of Directors, operate programs serving families and youth on the 4,500-square-mile (12,000 km2) Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. [2]



Chief Little Crow (Sioux: Thaóyate Dúta; English: His Red Nation) of the Sioux had a son named Wawinape (Sioux: Wówinaphe English: Place of Refuge) in 1846. [1] [2] [3] Little Crow and Wawinape survived the Dakota War of 1862. They lived at Devil's Lake in Dakota territory. On June 10, 1863, they left to make a raid into Minnesota to get horses for their family. On July 3, 1863, Little Crow and his son were in the "Big Woods" picking strawberries. A settler named Nathan Lamson saw them and shot and killed Little Crow. His son Wawinape escaped and fled back to Devil's Lake. He was later captured, tried and sentenced to hang. He was sent to a prison camp in Davenport, Iowa. [3] [4] There he converted to Christianity and took the name Thomas Wakeman. [1] [3] He was pardoned in 1865 and settled in Dakota Territory. [3]

Wakeman married Judith Minnetonka in January 1874. [3] They had four sons and two daughters: Solomon, Ruth, John, Jesse, Ida, and Alex. [4]


On April 27, 1879 Thomas Wakeman and his friends started the Koskadan Okodakiciye, a Young Man's Association, at Flandreau, Dakota Territory. [2] [3] In 1885, it was recognized by the national YMCA and its name was changed to Sioux YMCA. [2]


Wakeman contracted tuberculosis and died at Redwood Falls, Minnesota on January 13, 1886. [3] His son Jesse succeeded his father at the YMCA. [4]


  1. 1 2 3 4 YMCA in America (1851–2001), A History of Accomplishment Over 150 Years. YMCA of the USA. 2000. p. 6.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Cheyenne River Reservation Sioux YMCA". Archived from the original on 2008-01-28. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Cindy K. Coffin. "Thomas Wowinape Wakeman" . Retrieved 2013-12-11.
  4. 1 2 3 "Famous Native Minnesotans: Little Crow" . Retrieved 2008-03-24.

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