Genocide and Concentration Camps

Genocide and Concentration Camps
© January 14, 2016, John LaBatte

“…we owe it to those who died and suffered to tell the truth, and we owe it to future generations not to lie to them.” (Treuer, 32)

What is genocide? Did anyone commit genocide in 1862-63? Which standard for genocide should we use: 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention or 1998 Rome Statute?

What is a concentration camp? Were there any concentration camps in 1862-63?

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Treaties-1851-“Treaty of TDS Painting”

“The Treaty of the Traverse des Sioux” Painting
(1905), by David Francis Millet
© November 16, 2015, John LaBatte
Modified November 26, 2015

This essay is prompted by recent comments made about artwork in the Minnesota State Capitol Building. First, I will give some background on myself. Then, I will give some background on Sioux origins and migrations. Finally, I will discuss recent comments made by the Art Subcommittee and members of the media about the “Treaty of Traverse des Sioux” painting.

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War-Battles of NU-“Attack on NU Painting”

“Attack on New Ulm” Painting
(1904), by Anton Gag
© November 10, 2015, John LaBatte
Updated November 24, 2015

This essay is prompted by recent comments made about artwork in the State Capitol Building. I will first discuss the Art Subcommittee. Then, I will focus on the painting “Attack on New Ulm” by Anton Gag. Finally, I will provide 29 first-person accounts of how Dakota warriors were dressed in battle and going to battle.

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Review – MHS FR Exhibits

Minnesota Historical Society (MHS)
Fort Ridgely Historic Site
Commissary Exhibits
Reviewed September 24, 2015
Revised October 11, 2015

Items of Interest

The exhibits include Fort Ridgely history, Fort Ridgely in the Dakota War of 1862, period ordnance including a 12-pounder mountain howitzer and ammunition, period food, clothing, supplies and equipment including a “Sibley Tent,” period photos of Fort Ridgely and the Civil War, results of excavations done in 1936-37 and 1972 and CCC reconstruction work done in the 1930s.

This review will focus only on the Dakota War of 1862 information.

I believe that some of the panels in this exhibit were moved here in 2001 from the Lower Sioux Agency Historic Site when its exhibits were updated.

Four other reviews of Fort Ridgely products have been posted to this blog:

     Fort Ridgely Historic Site Sign
     Fort Ridgely Trail Signs
     MHS Fort Ridgely Information Website
     Fort Ridgely Introduction Video

General Comments

  • Disrespectful – Fort Ridgely Historic Site is one of the most significant historic sites in the State. Its exhibits need to be updated and corrected.
  • One panel states that there were 180 defenders during the 2 battles in 1862. This is correct. The Fort Ridgley Site Sign and the MHS Fort Ridgely Information Website state that there were 280 defenders. This is not correct.
  • The exhibit is an olio of items added over the years. There are exhibits that have little to do with the fort.
  • Incorrect – There is a main diorama in the back room showing the layout of the fort and descriptions of the buildings. However, there are other layouts and building descriptions on site that are not consistent with this main diorama. It is confusing.
  • Incorrect – I cannot find a good discussion anywhere on this site of the first and second battles.
  • Unbalanced – I cannot find any items in the back room related to the Dakota Indians except for short descriptions and paintings of the battles.

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Review – MHS FR Info Website

Minnesota Historical Society Website
Fort Ridgely Historic Site Information
Fort Ridgely Media Room
Reviewed on August 27, 2015

Items of Interest

The Fort Ridgely Historic Site Information is presented by MHS to attract the public to the Fort Ridgely Historic Site. I do not know the purpose of the Fort Ridgely Media Room.

General Comments

  • Incorrect – One statement indicates there were “280 military and civilian defenders” while another statement indicates there were “280 military personnel and civilians.” Both statements are incorrect. See below.
  • Unbalanced – Information is provided on the Dakota after the Dakota War of 1862, but no information is provided on the soldiers or the settlers after the war.
  • Disrespectful – Government officials and fur traders are criticized without showing proof.

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