Review – Dakota Exile Video

By Twin City Public Television (TPT), 1996
Reviewed on February 4, 2013

 General Comments 

  • Because this video is titled “Dakota Exile,” I do not expect to see mention of the whites after the war. But, I do expect to see why the whites were so angry that 38 Dakota were hanged and most of the remaining Dakota exiled from the State.
  • Unbalanced – Has TPT ever produced a video on the whites after the war? 

Most Objectionable Statements

 When the Dakota War ended, the cultural war began
—Incorrect – The cultural war began prior to the war as Dakota people converted to Christianity and farmers. The traditional Dakota did not want this. This was one of the primary causes of the Dakota War.

They separated the great Dakota nation
—Incorrect – The Teton, Yankton and Yanktonais bands had already separated, given their limited involvement in the Dakota War of 1862. While some Sisseton and Wahpeton were involved, the Dakota War separated them from the hostile Dakota who went to war.

Dakota Creation – Mother Earth gave birth to 1st grandmother and grandfather in Minnesota
—Incorrect – Earth is also called father and grandmother by others. What is correct?
—Incorrect – Some today say the ancestors of the Dakota Indians came from the constellation Orion. Who is correct?

There were 4 council fires in the great Dakota Nation. The Dakota Nation was the Mdewakanton, Wahpekute, Sisseton and Wahpeton.
—Incorrect – This is the modern day definition of Dakota Nation. In 1862, the Dakota Nation included the Teton, Yankton and Yanktonais.

The Dakota were in the way of white progress. Promises, bribes and threats yielded more and more land.
—Unbalanced – How did the Dakota obtain this land? They killed members of other tribes and took their land. This process of taking land did not start with the whites. The whites wrote treaties and provided money, supplies, food and many services in exchange for the land.

In 1858, they were confined to a narrow strip.
—Incorrect – The Dakota were not confined. They moved freely off the reservations.
—Incorrect – At 10 by 150 miles, the reservations were not a narrow strip.

When the money did arrive, the traders took it. When they were hungry they were told to eat grass. What kind of talk is that from civilized people?
—Incorrect – The traders did not take all of their money. The traders claimed what was owed.
—Incorrect – They were told to eat grass because Andrew Myrick learned that their soldiers’ lodge planned to refuse to pay their debts when the money arrived.

People who cut their hair received food.
—Incorrect – Dakota who became farmers received extra food as an incentive. One requirement of becoming a farmer was to cut their hair. It was believed this would keep from going to war.

In 1862, the Dakota would surrender no more to white culture or beg for food. They went to war.
—Incorrect – The majority of the Dakota leaders were not involved in the decision to go to war. The majority of the Dakota people opposed war with the whites.

The U.S. army ended the war. After the war, many chose to flee. This was the last time they would live as one nation. Over 500 whites were killed. The Dakota dead were never counted. They were held in a prison camp at Fort Snelling.
—Incorrect – The U.S. army and the friendly Dakota ended the war.
—Incorrect – Today they are much of a nation as they were in 1862.
—Incorrect – Over 650 whites and about 145 Dakota were killed.
—Incorrect – The camp at Fort Snelling was an internment camp.

No truth was said about the Dakota. Almost everything was a creation of someone’s mind. Lincoln in a compromise with the State reduced the number to be hanged to 38. This was the largest mass-execution in U.S. history.
—Incorrect – There is much truth in what was said and written.
—Incorrect – Lincoln did not compromise with the State.
—Incorrect – This was the largest simultaneous mass-execution in U.S. history.

Missionaries had great success after the war. The hanging hurt the spirit of the tribe as a whole. Fort Snelling was a prison camp. The survivors at Fort Snelling were packed on to steamboats and exiled to Dakota Territory.
—Incorrect – The missionaries had success after the war because the Dakota felt the God of the whites was superior to their gods.
—Incorrect – Fort Snelling was an internment camp.
—Incorrect – Not all of those remaining at Fort Snelling were exiled.
—Unbalanced – This video does not discuss the Dakota who remained in Minnesota.

About 300 died on the way to Crow Creek. At Crow Creek, they could not leave the reservation to hunt. 300 died the first winter. The surrounding hills were filled with children’s graves.
—Incorrect – Much fewer than 300 died on the way to Crow Creek.
—Incorrect – At Crow Creek, they did leave the reservation to hunt.
—Incorrect – Children were not the only ones who died.

We are still in exile from our original homeland.
—Incorrect – They can move back at any time.

Thousands of Dakota fled after the war. The U.S. sent their army to…destroy them.
—Incorrect – The U.S. sent their army to capture or kill the hostile Dakota.

Indian people did not care about property
—Incorrect – Villages claimed land and defended their land.
—Incorrect – If they did not care about property, why would they expect to be paid in the treaties?

Quickest way to assimilation was to individualize them on farms. Farming was individual materialistic.
—Incorrect – There was no “quick way” to assimilate the Dakota. Placing them on farms did not mean they were assimilated.

Before the Dawes Act in 1887, the Sisseton-Wahpeton tried allotments but this failed.
—Incorrect – There were allotments made before Dawes on the Lake Traverse Reservation that did not fail. Why does this speaker believe this failed?

The government decided to open the Lake Traverse Reservation to white settlement.
—Incorrect – After the allotments were made to Lake Traverse Reservation members, the Dakota decided by majority vote to open the remaining land to outsiders.

The missionary message was assimilation and change.
—Incorrect – Time and place needs to be given. In 1862, the missionaries offered Christianity and education. The Dakota chose what they wanted to do.

Boarding schools stripped children of their language and culture.
—Unbalanced – The boarding schools also were beneficial to families where there was a poor home environment for children.

Ramsey talked of extermination or banishment of the Dakota. $200 bounties placed on their scalps.
—Incorrect – Ramsey represented the general opinion of the citizens of the State. More than 650 whites had been killed by hostile Dakota. The public could not separate the friendly Dakota from the hostile Dakota.
—Unbalanced – Little Crow’s soldiers’ lodge offered bounties on white scalps during the war.

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