I would guess that
most people around the world have heard of the Battle of the Little
Big Horn, and many have heard of Wounded Knee, but how many, even
in America have heard of the Minnesota 'Uprising' of 1862? Yet it
was a very important 6 weeks in the lives of the Minnesota Dakota
back then and even today. Pain does not go away so easily, and all
of the things leading up to, everything that happened during and
all that occured after those 6 weeks have stayed with the Dakota
Starvation was a
big factor in the hostilities, as was the Civil War. The Government.
at the time were too caught up in their fighting down south to care
about keeping their word to the Dakota people of Minnesota. So their
annuities were late, more than once, and so their debts to the traders
could not be paid, and more food could not be purchased with out
money, and so the People starved. The traders back then allowed
the Dakota to have a line of credit (yes even then credit was popular)
knowing that the annuity would arrive and the debt would be paid.
However they did add atrocious amounts of interest on those credit
lines and so even when they were paid up, guess what? a new credit
line had to be given because they were then short of money.
You may ask well
why didn't they grow their own food, surely they lived on the land,
so why not? Didn't they know about agriculture? Well yes they did,
in actual fact the Dakota women had been growing corn and squash
for many generations in Minnesota, the men were the hunters. Then
when the first white missionaries came through the area they insisted
that the men should be farmers, and so showed them how to grow corn!
It was confusing to the People their roles had been changed. Then
of course there was the land issue, the Dakota had given up much
of their land in exchange for annuities and other promises that
didn't bear weight, so they didn't have the good land to grow food
in, find berries and other plants that they were used to eating
or to hunt on. On top of all this what they had grown for a couple
of years had been eaten and destroyed by grasshoppers. They were
in a very vulnerable situation, they had to rely on govt. money
that didn't arrive. They knew that the warehouse was full of food
and supplies but their credit lines had been cut off and so they
couldn't access any of these things. Starvation grew worse.
Now you might think
that these Dakota were what was termed in those days, 'savages'
or 'heatherns', but not so. Many of them had been converted to Christianity,
they went to church along with their white neighbors. Some of those
white neighbors were also friends and they helped to provide food
for the Dakota they knew, but I guess there were so many of them
that not all could be helped, and of course not all wanted to help.
Andrew Myrick, a trader, for instance said that they should 'eat
grass' if they were hungry, very nasty and not helpful especially
as he was one of the traders who could have helped. Little Crow
the leader of the Dakota at that time was actually in church the
morning the 'Uprising' began. He tried to stop the war but his words
fell on deaf ears and hungry stomachs!
A group of young
Dakota men were walking, their stomachs growling with hunger and
they came across a homestead, where they saw a chicken coop, one
urged another to take an egg, then the cowardice thing came into
play. 'If you don't do it you are a coward, you are afraid of the
white men.' Well that was the wrong, (or the right) thing to say
because eggs were stolen and with all the noise the homesteader
came out along with another man and some women, being afraid and
knowing they had done wrong, the young men killed them.
This was the action
that started the 1862 Minnesota six week war between the Dakota
and those who oppressed them. I won't say whites because the Dakota
actually saved a lot of whites who had helped them with food and
shelter. The war was actually against starvation and oppression,
those who died were both Dakota and White, Warrior and Soldier,
Women, Children and Men from both sides, as you will see as this
story progresses. The act started out to be a petty theft, but ended
up with many people dying and the effect still living with the People
to this day.
These young men
hurried to Little Crow and other chiefs and told what had happened.
Little Crow knew this would cause trouble and tried to explain that
when he was in Washington DC for treaty talks four years earlier
there were more whites than stars in the sky, and that those people
would be sent to kill them if they carried it any further, again
the cowardice card came into play and the council of chiefs said
he would be a coward if he didn't fight. He hoped that the civil
war would take all the soldiers and that they wouldn't send any
to Minnesota against them and so he said he wasn't a coward and
war was set.
The first place
that was hit was the stone warehouse where they knew food was, they
joined together on the road that went by there, (it is now a field
but you can still hear their voices if you listen hard enough, you
can still feel their pain and anger.) From there they attacked,
the warehouse (which is still standing) and the other stores, they
killed those they found and undoubtably some of them were killed
as well. Later a dead Andrew Myrick was found with grass stuffed
in his mouth.
After this area
was sacked the Dakota continued attacking homesteads and farms and
even Fort Ridgely which was of course fortified. Having been to
the fort you can see how desperate the Dakota had to have been to
use bows and arrows and rifles against the fort. The walls were
made of stone, at least 12 inches thick, neither bullets or arrows
would have pierced those walls. To reach the fort they would have
had to climb up a hill side and then they would have had cannons
firing at them as well as rifles from the soldiers behind the fortifications.
This was no wooden fort.
Many white women
and children were taken in by various Dakota families who in the
most part looked after them well, even giving them food that they
needed themselves. Often they had to hide them from other Dakota
who were wanting to kill the women. These women and children were
eventually released at 'Camp Release' a safe haven for them.
Eventually the soldiers
came in and after skirmishes and battles in various places the Dakota
gave up or were captured. They were given a court hearing and many
condemned to death. The court transcripts are really something to
read, most Dakota didn't understand english and so had to have translators,
who knows what they translated, was it correct or not. Most of the
Dakota because they were warriors said that yes they had fought
and killed, because that was what warriors did, they protected their
people, and their people were in danger, if from nothing else, starvation!
To say they hadn't participated would have made them out to be a
coward. So they would rather be hung than say they hadn't participated.
An appeal was put
before Abraham Lincoln by one of the Missionaries at the Yellow
Medicine Agency, (Lower/Upper Sioux area) to spare the lives of
the over 100 Dakota due to be hung. Lincoln spared all but 39, and
another was spared before the hanging day, leaving 38. It is these
38 that are honored by this ride.
After the six weeks
of fighting and haggling from both sides, the Dakota were captured
or gave themselves up and were imprisoned. The women, children and
elders were force marched to Fort Snelling, in November. Those of
you who know Minnesota weather are probably saying, 'No!' but yes,
they were. Some were put on wagons but most walked, some died on
the way from exposure, hunger, and attacks from the angry people
in various towns they had to walk through. If you would like to
know more about this part of the 1862 history, that isn't something
that is known or spoken about, please go to the following site,
that is from the Womens march group http://dragonflydezignz.50megs.com/dakota-march/index.html
(Written by Gloria for the women's March 2002 - 2014 )
The men were taken
to Mankato and imprisoned there until the executions and there they
found out their fate. Were they to be hung or not? Chaske a respected
man who had saved Sarah Wakefield and her family was assured that
he would be safe because of the way they had cared for Mrs Wakefield,
however when it came to the actual hanging names were called and
the men stepped forward, Chaske being one of them. The real Chaske
stayed back and allowed the innocent man to be hung. Sarah Wakefield
was astounded when she heard and contacted the government, missionaries
and dignities, only to be told that it was basically one of those
things. (When President Clinton's term of office was up I and another
woman asked him for a pardon for Chaske, we didn't get it, so he
still needs pardoning, maybe we can ask Obama for one for him.)
Another man who
was hung was a white man. The story goes that two women one day
found this small boy by a stream, he was white they were Dakota,
he was about 4 at the time. Where he came from they never found
out, but one of them took him in and cared for him and eventually
he was like a son to them, he became a Dakota and was involved in
the fighting. The military didn't know he was white, and so they
hung him. I have heard this story from the Dakota, they said at
the time that the military didn't know they killed one of their
own. A list of the names of the executed men will appear on here
The day they were
to be hung the death song sounded from the prisoners jail, they
continued it until they were on the scaffold. They were ready to
die, it was a good day for them.
"SAINT PAUL, December 27, 1862. The PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED
I have the honor to inform you that the thirty-eight Indians and
half-breeds ordered by you for execution were hung yesterday at
Mankato at 10 a.m. Everything went off quietly and the other prisoners
are well secured. Respectfully, H. H. SIBLEY, Brigadier-General."
The names of
those executed were as follows:
~Ptan Du-ta (Scarlet Otter)
~O-ya'-te Ta-wa (His people)
~Hin-han'-sun-ko-yag-ma-ni (One who Walks Clothed in Owl Feathers)
~Ma-za Bo-mdu (Iron Blower)
~Wa-hi'na (possibly meaning I Came)
~Sna Ma-hi (Tinkling Water)
~Hda In-yan-ka (Rattling Water)
~He-pan (Second born child, this was given to the second boy)
~Tun-kan' I-ca'hda Ma-ni (One Who Walks by His Grandfather)
~Ka-mde'-ca (Broken to Pieces)
~He In'-kpa (The Tip of the Horn)
~Ma-za Ku-te Ma-ni (One Who Shoots As He Walks)
~A-i'-ca-ge (To Grow Upon)
~Ho-i'-tan-in Ku (Returning Clear Voice)
~Ce-tan' Hun-ka' (Elder Hawk)
~Can-ka-hda (Near the Woods)
~Hda'-hin-hde (Sudden Rattle)
~O-ya'-te A-ku' (He Brings the People)
~Ma-hu'-we-hi (He Comes for Me)
~Ti-hdo'-ni-ca (One Who Jealousy Guards His Home)
~Wa-kan Tan-ka (Great Mystery or Great Spirit)
~Cas-ke'-da (First Born Child. this was given to the first boy)
~Do-wan'-s'a (Sings a lot or Singer)
~Ta-te' Ka-ga (Wind Maker)
~Sun-ka Ska (White Dog)
~Wa-kin'-yan-na (Little Thunder)
~Baptiste Campbell (a mixed blood)
~Wa-hpe Du-ta (Scarlet Leaf)
~Wa-si'-cun (White Man)
~I-te' Du-ta (Scarlet Face)
~Ma-ka'-ta I-na' (One Who Stands on Earth)
~Hypolite Auge (a mixed blood)
~Ma-hpi'-ya A-i'-na-zin (One who Stands on a Cloud, a.k.a. Cut Nose)
~Tun-kan' Ko-yag I-na'-zin (One Who Stands Cloaked in Stone)
~Ta-te' Hdi-da (Wind Comes Home)
~Ta-te Hmi-hma (Round Wing)
Little Crow (Ta-oya-te-duta)
was discovered by accident July 3 1863 and shot to death by a white
farmer who was paid over $500 for his body that was then mutilated
and displayed for over 100 years. His body was eventually discovered
in 1971 and buried in Flandreau, SD. The ceremony was performed
by Galen Drapeau Sr.
Two chiefs, Shakopee
(Little Six) and Medicine Bottle were pursued into Canada,
captured and kidnapped back to the States. On November 11 1865 they
were hung in Fort Snelling... These are the +2.
In 1995 - 1997 Chuck
and I were members of The Gathering of Kinship Committee. The group
was started to heal the wounds of the 1862 heartache, from both
sides. In 1997 we had decided to allow people to carry the names
of the 38 plus 3 (Little Crow was the third person) for the following
year, so that they could have the mourning process done for them.
Dakota people back then would honour the dead for a year, a wife
would carry a bundle of her husbands things with her, she would
talk to it, put food out for it and she would put it in his seating
place and sleeping place, as if it were him, she would not wear
new clothes, or dance, nor socalize. After a year she would return
the bundle to his relatives and they would provide her with new
clothes to begin her life again.
I guess it was a
good way to get used to the loved one not being around, it was a
custom and so she could do it in a way that was acceptable to everyone.
Nowdays we are told to 'get over it' in many cases, we are not allowed
to mourn our dead, for as long as they were allowed to. Of course
when the men were hung in Mankato they had no one to mourn for them
as their wives and family were imprisoned and were having a hard
enough time just to survive. They needed to be mourned and their
Spirits put to rest. So I asked Galan Drapeau Sr, the man who buried
Little Crow if he would do a ceremony for these men, and he said
yes. The committee made up leather name tags for each man and they
would be given to people in place of the bundle. We hoped to get
actual descendants to take them home but that was hard to do and
so only a few in the end were taken by family members.
Anyway the day came
for the ceremony it was to be done at Birch Coulee, during the memorial
powwow that was on for 2 days. We gathered together in the sun around
Galen while he took every one of those name tags and did a ceremony
with them. It was amazing. people just stood quietly and watched
him (and another spiritual leader) do their spiritual work. Then
the names were given out to the people.
The one thing that
came from that day was the amount of people (including myself) who
saw the spirit lights in the trees circling us. they were just flashing
off and on all over those trees, but of course we knew not to say
anything that would disturb the spiritual men while they worked.
I don't know if they saw those lights but I know many of us did.
Those spirits were watching as well, as enthralled as we all were,
while the men did their wonderful work. It was a great honour to
be there and to be a part of that committee. Baine Wilson who was
the man who was the founder of the group has gone now, his wife
Lillian became a good friend, as did most of that group. We had
a spiritual link to each other.
(The day that we
did the ceremony, was the same day that Princess Diana died. The
following day everyone at the powwow did an honor dance for her,
probably the first honoring for her in the world.)
I went back to England
a few weeks afterwards, and so never got to see the name tags bought
back the following year. I know all of them were not returned, I
have heard of one that is worn on regalia as a continuing honoring
to that man.
The Dakota women and children were taken to Crow Creek in South
Dakota by riverboat the following spring, they went to St Louis
on the Mississippi and then on the Missouri to Crow Creek. They
were basically dropped off there with nothing to their names. I
would like to think that there were people there who could have
assisted them to get settled in their new land, but I suspect that
wasn't the case. There were soldiers there and probably some missionaries
but that was all, no friendly faces to help them. They also had
the Winnebago people on a different part of the reservation who
were enemies and so had to worry about those as well. They too had
been moved from Minnesota en masse. The Winnebago eventually moved
to the Omaha reservation in Nebraska.
I do know that a
lot of Dakota people died on the way to Crow Creek, those who were
weak from the awful winter they had just survived at Fort Snelling,
the elderly and the young. I can guess that some died when they
got to Crow Creek as well because other than the weather being warmer
what else did they have. They had to start again, without their
men and without protection.
A few years ago
Chuck was invited to Crow Creek where they did a ceremony and laid
a stone to remember those women who landed there. The memorial is
in the middle of a Medicine Wheel on the banks of the Missouri River
on the edge of the reservation. We visited there this summer, and
even then a chilly wind was blowing and I pictured these poor women
and children landing there, not knowing where they were or what
they should do, I said prayers, gave offerings and I cried for them.
In the book 'The
Sioux Uprising of 1862' by Kenneth Carley, he states that the
'dismal drought striken place was soon dotted by Sioux graves'.
and the following about the food that they had, or didn't have,
the next winter to eat, 'The pork and flour that arrived was condemned
as unfit for the soldiers to eat and 300 head of cattle became so
emaciated on their 300 mile trek to the reservation. Nevertheless,
the flour and meat, including entrails and other undesirable parts,
were the main ingredients of a nauseous stew that was cooked in
vats and ladeled out to the Dakota women. The "rotten stuff"
was understandably refused by many Dakota.'
After three years
at Fort Thompson, the Dakota were moved to Santee Nebraska, where
things became much better for them.
Eventually the Dakota returned to Minnesota, to the Upper and Lower
Sioux, to Prairie Island, and Shakopee. They came to build new lives
for themselves and their families on their beloved homeland, but
the memories of the past never left them, the pain was handed down
from one generation to the next. It is time to heal that pain.
I hope that this
ride goes a long way to heal it, and to dispel the stereotypes from
both sides. We can all remember the loss of life and lifestyle from
both the Dakota side and the Settlers side. The war should never
have happened, the People from both sides should have been respected
by the government at the time, they should have all been cared for
by Lincoln and his fellow politicians instead of being left to fend
for themselves in the face of adversity.
The Dakota and many
of the whites who lived in the area were friends, they visited with
each other, the broke bread with each other. They also prayed together
all bending their knees in respect to the Creator/God. Then in a
blink of an eye, because of greed, ignorance and racism that bond
of friendship and trust was broken. Many of the settlers were helped
by their friends, they were told to get away to safety, because
more Dakota were coming in to join in this fight and they would
be just another white person to them. It would not be safe. Some
like John Otherday got a lot of people to safety.
From the Dakota
side many of them were Christian, The missionaries Riggs and Williamson
had taught them about the Bible and had in fact translated the Bible
into Dakota. They were taught hymns in Dakota, and even today those
same hymns are sung in the Dakota language at funerals and yet these
same people, these Christian Dakota, were called heatherns and savages
only a few days after being in Church. as I said earlier Little
Crow had been in Church the morning the War began.
There is a photo
of a young woman, Wabasha's daughter in law, sitting by a ramshakled
tipi in the Fort Snelling internment camp. She looks completely
lost, she doesn't know what happened to her husband, she just knows
that he isn't with her. She was one of the Christian Dakota, she
is wearing a wedding ring, the same way we wear them today, she
was married probably by Bishop Whipple in a church service, and
yet there she is, in an internment camp because she was Dakota.
Her husband was one of the men hung at Mankato. She was one of the
women who couldn't mourn her husband in the traditional way or even
in a Christian way because of where she was and because the date
In the Little Feather
Center in Pipestone we have many of these photos on display, if
you are around our way do please come in and see them. Our Center
is free entrance.
Thanks for your
time and your support for this Ride.
2008 - 2014
Dakota Commemorative March - November 2014
The women's march is HERE:
This is a march that first took place in November 2002...
The women prisoner's names are HERE
The men prisoner's names are HERE
Please see the books section on last years website HERE