Review – Little War on the Prairie – Audio

Little War on the Prairie
By John Biewin
Reviewed on March 11, 2013

 General Comments

  • Incorrect – This was hardly a “little war.
  • Unbalanced – Dakota descendants are interviewed. NO settler descendants are interviewed.
  • Unbalanced – What happened to the Dakota after the war is discussed. What happened to the whites after the war is NOT discussed.
  • Unbalanced – The Dakota who opposed the war in 1862 are not given enough attention.
  • Disrespectful – The U.S., Henry Sibley and the fur traders are criticized without proof.
  • Incorrect – The causes of the Dakota War of 1862 are many and complicated. The causes are dealt with too lightly in this video.

Most Objectionable Statements 

Mankato was the site of the largest mass execution in U.S. history.
—Incorrect – It was the site of the largest simultaneous mass execution.

All the Dakota were kicked off their land and expelled from the State
—Incorrect – The Dakota were removed because 100-150 young hostile Dakota men went to war resulting in the deaths of more than 650 innocent whites.
—Incorrect – Not all Dakota were expelled from the State.

He doesn’t remember it being taught in school or being mentioned at all. He was raised to be aware of America’s injustice. What happened? Why don’t we talk about this war?
—Unbalanced – He implies there was injustice that was buried by the education system.

Interview with Dakota descendant at the Acton Monument
The monument is marble
—Incorrect – The monument is granite

At the Traverse des Sioux Treaty Site exhibit
This is the history that led up to the Dakota War
—Incorrect – This is some of the history that led up to the war.

They talked bluntly about prying the land out of Indian hands.
—What does this mean? – “prying the land out of Indian hands”
—Unbalanced – How did the Dakota Indians obtain this land? They did not write treaties. They took this land from other tribes.
—Disrespectful – If the land was pried out of Indian hands, state the facts instead of opinions.

Jefferson stated that the U.S. should encourage the Indians to drive up their debts so that they must sell their land to pay their debts.
—Incorrect – Jefferson made this statement in 1803. Prove that this became U.S. policy.

By 1851, they [Dakota] were deep in debt at least according to the traders and they were the ones keeping track.
—Disrespectful – If any traders were cheating the Indians, prove it and name the traders.

In order to relieve their debt, the Dakota had to sell their land.
—Incorrect – A discussion is needed as to why they were in debt.
—Incorrect – Being in debt was not the reason they sold their land. They were hungry.

The Dakota were left with a skinny strip in the middle of the vast territory.
—Incorrect – At 20 x 150 miles, this was hardly a “skinny strip.”

Luke Lea’s statement at TDS – The U.S. could come with 100,000 men and drive you off to the Rocky Mountains
—Incorrect – This statement was made at Mendota.
—Incorrect – This video does not discuss the 1851 Treaty of Mendota.

The treaty could not have happened without Henry Sibley.
—Incorrect – This is an opinion. Prove it.

Sibley was buried in debt. Because of this he played the Dakota. He saw treaties as the way to be paid.
—Disrespectful – Sibley and other debtors had the right to be paid.
—What does this mean? – “he played the Dakota”?

The Indian copy of treaties didn’t tell them how treaty would be administered.
—Disrespectful – What does this mean? Does this imply that the U.S. misled the Dakota?

Chiefs thought they were signing another copy of the treaty.
—Incorrect – Some knew what they were signing.

When he is faced with moral dilemma, of dealing with his friends, Sibley chose his own self-interest
—Disrespectful – This person is anti Sibley. Why isn’t someone with better knowledge of Sibley interviewed to balance this?

 At Lower Sioux Agency Historic Site
The annuity payment was due in June
—Incorrect – According to the 1851 Treaty, the annual payment was due July 1.

This area looked like it did in 1862
—Incorrect – Very little resembles 1862.

In 1850, the Indians outnumbered whites 5 to 1. By 1860, the whites outnumbered Indians 5 to 1.
—What does this mean? Is this statewide population?

In 1858, Washington changed terms of the 1851 treaties and took half of the reservation back.
—Incorrect – By the terms of the 1851 Treaties, the Dakota did not own the reservations. More correctly stated, in the 1858 Treaties, the U.S. gave the Dakota the reservations (land) on the south side of the Minnesota River.

Some turned to farming
—Incorrect – By 1862, there were about 250 Dakota farms. I would not say this was “some.”

The Dakota asked the traders for food. Myrick treated them like livestock. He told them to eat grass or their own dung.
—Incorrect – The U.S. was responsible for feeding the Dakota, not the traders.
—Incorrect and disrespectful – Why did Myrick tell them to eat grass? He learned they planed to refuse to pay their debts when the annuity arrived.

In 200 years there hadn’t been much violence between the whites and Dakota
—Incorrect – What about the Sprit Lake murders?

Regarding Acton
4 boys rode back to Lower Sioux Agency, where their village was located. A council of all Lower Sioux chiefs decided on war at Little Crow’s house.
—Incorrect – They were young men not boys.
—Incorrect – They returned to their village at Rice Creek.
—Incorrect – The decision for war was made either at the Rice Creek village or the Shakopee village.
—Incorrect – All of the Lower Sioux chiefs were not present.
—Incorrect – All of the Lower Sioux chiefs were not in favor of war.

Little Crow was living in a house, farming, going to church and cutting his hair.
—Incorrect – Little Crow had a field but his wives were tending to it.
—Incorrect – Little Crow was not a Christian and I doubt he was attending church often.
—Incorrect – Little Crow was not cutting his hair.

Sleepy Eyes did not want to fight at all
—Incorrect – Chief Sleepy Eyes was not alive in 1862.

On August 18, several hundred Dakota led by Little Crow attacked the Lower Sioux Agency. They killed 20 men.
—Incorrect – I don’t think anyone can estimate how many attacked the Lower Sioux Agency.
—Incorrect – According to Satterlee, they killed 13 men at the Lower Agency and they killed 7 more in flight from the Agency.

The war was caused by double-dealing and bullying.
—Incorrect – The causes of the Dakota War were many and complicated to be stated so simply.
—Disrespectful – This is an opinion. Show proof there was double-dealing and bullying.

A minimum of 400 innocent whites were murdered.
—Incorrect – More than 650 innocent whites were murdered.

Men responsible in St. Paul and DC were untouchable – They wrote and violated the treaties
—Incorrect – The U.S. wrote the treaties.
—Disrespectful – This is an opinion. Show proof that treaties were violated.

Sibley had no military experience. He was moving very slowly. Newspapers were hard on Sibley. There were public attacks on Sibley – He was thin skinned – He was beside himself.
—Why does this matter that Sibley had no military experience?
—Disrespectful – Why was Sibley moving very slowly?
—Disrespectful – Were the public attacks justified? Did Sibley have the right to be angry?
—Disrespectful – There is an attempt here to make Sibley appear to be inept.

This explains the severe attitude Sibley had toward Dakota after the war. He felt he was personally betrayed.
—Incorrect – These are opinions. Prove that the newspapers caused his severe attitude. Prove that he had a severe attitude. Prove that he felt betrayed?

After the war, Sibley wrote letters against the Dakota.
—Disrespectful – What does this mean? Didn’t he have the right to oppose what the hostile Dakota did?

Sibley denied that he hurt the Dakota.
—Disrespectful – This implies that Sibley did hurt the Dakota. There needs to be experts on Sibley involved in this discussion.

400-1000 whites were killed and 50-100 Indians were killed during the war.
—Incorrect – More than 650 whites were killed and about 145 Indians were killed.

Ramsey said that the Dakota must be exterminated or driven beyond the borders of the State
—Incorrect – Hostile Dakota killed more than 650 whites. This was the largest mass-murder of civilians by Indians in U.S. history. Ramsey was reflecting the popular public opinion.

Bounties of $75-$200 were offered for Dakota scalps
—Unbalanced – The Dakota also offered bounties during the war for white scalps.

The Dakota gathered at Camp Release and waited for Sibley
—Incorrect – Sequence of events is wrong.

Sibley said come out under a flag of truce, you will be protected, I will protect you. You have my word. This was not honored. Sibley said only those who murdered settlers would be punished.
—Disrespectful – Sibley’s exact words should be provided. How many Dakota and white lives did Sibley save by making these statements?

The Dakota were marched 150 miles downriver.
—Incorrect – Even from Camp Release, this was not 150 miles.

Sam Brown’s graphic detail about a Dakota baby killed in Henderson
—Unbalanced – Where is the graphic detail about a white baby killed by Indians?

It was essentially a concentration camp at Fort Snelling
—Incorrect – The Fort Snelling Internment Camp was not a concentration camp.

Hundreds died at Fort Snelling. 100 died in transport to Crow Creek. 100s died at Crow Creek.
—Incorrect – The official count of deaths at Fort Snelling was 102.
—Incorrect – Far fewer than 100 died in transport to Crow Creek.

This was the thanks they got for opposing the war
—Disrespectful – This was a tragic event. There is no need to be sarcastic about it.

Camp Lincoln – Mankato
This is where the Dakota men ended up after Sibley promised to treat them fairly.
—Incorrect – Not all of the Dakota men ended up here.
—Disrespectful – Had Sibley copied traditional Dakota warfare, he would have killed all of the Dakota at Camp Release.

Sibley set up a kangaroo court.
—Disrespectful – This is an opinion – Prove it.
—Unbalanced – The white trial system is criticized while the Dakota trial system is not discussed.

He didn’t let them have lawyers.
—Incorrect – He was not required to let them have lawyers.

Five men tried them who had just fought against them.
—What does this mean? Is this wrong? Prove it.

It is named Sibley Park after the man who led the charge to drive the Dakota off their homeland. Places were named after men who drove the Dakota off.
—Unbalanced – Mankato is a form of the Dakota word for blue earth. Mankato was a village chief. No mention is made of the places named after Dakota men.

Newspapers told horrifying stories not backed-up with fact
—Incorrect – Newspapers also told stories that were true.
—Disrespectful – This leads the listener to think that there were no atrocities committed by the hostile Dakota.

Lincoln first said to execute men who raped women
—Incorrect – See Walt Bachman’s book, Northern Slave – Black Dakota

Whites relished the story of the war. Minnesota figured out this was really bad PR. Does this explain how I grew up in Mankato without hearing this story? We don’t remember the Dakota War because we won?
—What does this mean? There was a cover-up conspiracy?

One teacher said Dakota Indians did not know how to solve conflict. The only way Indians knew how to solve conflict was to fight.The narrator says there were no Dakota children were in room to take offense.
—What does this mean? If this was wrong, then discuss it with the teacher on this tape.

In 1863, Lincoln signed a bill removing the Dakota from the state. This is still on the books.
—Incorrect – Not all of the Dakota were removed from the State.
—What difference does this make if it is still on the books? This was a removal not a ban.

One place to see fake history is on the State Flag of Minnesota. The original MN State seal was chosen by Sibley.
—Disrespectful – A parting shot at Sibley.

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