Review – DNR USA Exhibit

 Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Upper Sioux Agency State Park Office Center
Reviewed on January 15, 2008 

Items of Interest 

There is a reconstructed Agency period duplex in the State Park. Other building sites are marked. These sites are interpreted with signs. 

General Comments

  • Unbalanced – There are photos of 3 Dakota leaders who opposed the war, but no photos of Dakota leaders who favored the war. 

Most Objectionable Statements 

[Map] – Sioux (Dakota) Reservations 1851-1862

—Incorrect – Text on the map states “Treaty of 1851.” There were 2 treaties in 1851.
—Incorrect – The map shows one reservation in 1851 and 1858. There were 2 reservations in 1851 and 1858.
—Incorrect – The map shows the reservation land ceded in 1858, but no mention of this is made in the text below. 

Treaties Create a Reservation and Agency

Through the treaties of Traverse des Sioux in 1851 and Mendota in 1852 the Dakota Indians ceded virtually their entire Minnesota homeland to the United States Government. In return, the nearly 7,000 Dakota were to receive annual cash payments along with food and supplies to be distributed annually over the next 20 years…
—Incorrect – The Treaty of Mendota was also signed in 1851.
—Incorrect – They ceded less than 50% of present day Minnesota. They also ceded parts of Iowa and Dakota Territory.
—Is this correct? – There were nearly 7,000 Dakota in 1851.
—“annual cash payments…” and “distributed annually” are redundant.
—Incorrect – They received much more than just cash, food and supplies.
—Incorrect – According to the 1851 Treaties, the annuities would continue for 50 years. 

At the confluence of the Minnesota and Yellow Medicine rivers, a place the Dakota called Pezihutazizik’api…the Upper Sioux…Agency was established in 1854…A similar agency was built at the same time 30 miles down river at Redwood…
—Incorrect – According to the Upper Sioux Community website, the correct spelling is Pejuhutazizi Kapi.
—Incorrect – These miles should be identified as land miles. The actual distance by river was greater than this.
—Incorrect – The Lower Sioux Agency was built in 1853 at the mouth of the Redwood River. In 1854, it was moved downriver. 

Upper Sioux Agency – A Place of Change

In addition to serving as centers for distribution of cash annuities, food and supplies agreed to in the 1851 and 1852 treaties, these agencies served to implement the U.S. government policy of assimilating the Dakota people into the larger American culture. At both the Upper and Lower agencies, U. S. government schools taught men and boys Euro-American farming practices…To further fit in, Indian participants were encouraged to cut their hair…
—Incorrect – There were 2 treaties in 1851 and no treaty in 1852.
—Is this correct? – The U.S. had an assimilation policy.
—Incorrect – The U.S. never established a school of this type at the Lower Sioux Agency.
—Incorrect – Only the men were required to cut their hair and only if they wanted to become members of the churches or if they wanted a farm from the U.S. The U.S. believed that cutting their hair would keep them from going on war parties.

The goal was to end their self-sufficient lifestyle of seasonal hunting and gathering camps along with traditional gardening at summer villages and remake, through education and training, the Dakota people into a self-contained Euro-American-style farm community. Just a small number of Sisseton and Wahpeton Dakota resided on the reservation or near this agency site, and only about 200 Dakota participated in the Upper Agency’s farmer program. Most of the approximately 4,000 Upper Sioux Indians tried to continue their seasonal hunting, gathering and gardening throughout their traditional homeland outside the reservation boundaries.
—Becoming a farmer was a choice. The farmers continued to hunt and gather.
—Incorrect – The majority of the Sisseton and Wahpeton villages were on the reservation.
—What does this mean? – Were there 200 Dakota men who participated or 200 men, women and children? 

[Photo] – Joseph R. Brown

He used cash annuity payments and supplies to reward Dakota who became farmer Indians.
—Incorrect – The farmers, as non-farmers received annuities of food, cash and supplies. As an incentive to them to become farmers, Brown issued additional food and supplies.
—Is this correct? Did he give extra annuity money to the Farmer Indians? 

[Painting] – Upper Sioux Agency layout

—It would be nice if these buildings were identified 

The Upper Sioux Agency Site in Recent Times

This site is open for you to explore on your own. In 1938, the U.S. government bought and returned 746 acres near Granite Falls to the small but growing number of Dakota. Today it is one of Minnesota’s four Dakota communities.
—Incorrect – I have never seen the reconstructed duplex open. It is best to call before your visit.
—Is this correct? Do the people own this land or does the U.S. still have control?
—Incorrect – There are 4 federally recognized Dakota communities in Minnesota and there are also Dakota communities at Pipestone and at Mendota. 

War Destroys the Agency

On August 18, 1862, members of the Lower Sioux, many of whom were near starvation and frustrated with the United States government and its agents for withholding food and treaty payments, attacked, looted and killed traders, civilians and employees at the Lower Sioux Agency…This war to drive the settlers out of the Dakotas’ traditional homeland spread quickly…However, not all Dakota supported this war, as most of the Upper Sioux Agency Dakota refused to participate in a war they did not want.
—Incorrect – Lower Sioux people were near starvation and others were starving. We don’t know how many.
—Incorrect – The causes of the Dakota War were many and complicated.

During the war the Upper and Lower agencies were completely destroyed…It is estimated that more than 500 settlers and soldiers, and an unknown number of Dakota, were killed.
—Incorrect – The agencies were not completely destroyed.
—Incorrect – More than 650 whites were killed and about 145 Dakota were killed. 

[Photo] – Anpetutokeca, John Otherday

He was a leader of a small band of Wahpeton farmers living near the Upper Agency.  He led many of the agency residents, employees, visitors and missionaries to safety at the start of the war.  Some Dakota still see him as a traitor to his people because of his aid to people at the agency.
—Incorrect – Anpetutokeca does not translate to John Otherday.
—Incorrect – Through Dakota Eyes by Anderson and Woolworth spells his name, Ampatutokacha. What is correct?
—Disrespectful – He was also a Christian.
—Incorrect – He led 62 people to safety. There were no missionaries in this group.
—Disrespectful – Dakota people, who side with those who went to war, see him and all those Dakota who opposed the war as traitors. 

[Photo] – Mazomani, Iron Walker

Mazomani, also known as Iron Walker, was a Wahpeton leader and advocate for peace. U.S. soldiers wounded him at Wood Lake while he carried a flag of truce in an effort to arrange for the release of captives held by the Dakota.
—Mazomani was also a farmer. He would also be called a traitor.
—Incorrect – According to Samuel Brown, Mazomani was shot in the back by Little Crow’s soldiers who threatened to kill anyone trying to go to Sibley’s camp.
—Incorrect – This is only one version of why he was carrying a white flag trying to reach Sibley’s camp. 

What They Said

[Photo] – Andrew J. Myrick
“If they are hungry, let them eat grass”
Andrew Myrick, a trader at the Lower Sioux Agency, made this inflammatory comment at the close of a counsel with the Dakota concerning the extension of credit and the release of food to the starving Dakota.
—Incorrect – DNR needs to state why Myrick said this. Myrick learned that Lower Sioux were planning to refuse to pay their debts. And, Myrick did not think the annuity money was coming.
—Incorrect – It was the responsibility of the U.S. Government to feed the Indians. We do not know how much food the fur traders had.

[Photo] – Wamditanka, Big Eagle
“…the whites were always trying to make the Indians give up their way of life and live like white men – go into farming, work hard and do as they did – and the Indians did not know how to do that, and did not want to anyway…if the Indians had tried to make the whites live like them, the whites would have resisted, and it was the same way with many Indians.”
—Unbalanced – By 1862, there were about 250 Dakota farms on the reservations. The U.S. could not keep up with the demand for farms. Big Eagle gave reasons why a Dakota minority went to war.

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