Review – U of M Overdue Apology Video

 American Indians in Minnesota class, Spring 2012
University of Minnesota
Overdue Apology Video
Reviewed on July 6, 2013
Updated on March 17, 2016

Items of Interest

From the video:
This is a five part project put together by students in the American Indians in Minnesota class at the University of Minnesota (AmIn 1003, Spring 2012) and explores the idea that the injustices that Native people have endured over the course of Minnesota history deserves an official state apology…

Information is provided on the Ojibwe Indians. I did not review this information.

General Comments

  • Incorrect – The primary purpose of this video is to urge the State of Minnesota to apologize to the Indian people of Minnesota. Sadly, much time and money has been put into a false premise. The U.S. determined American Indian policy, made treaties, relocated the Indians, sentenced the 38 to hang and removed most of the Dakota from the State. The State government and it citizens had nothing to do with this. The students are blaming the State due to lack of knowledge of this history.
  • The University of Minnesota owes an apology to these students for the poor education given them on Minnesota Indian history. This video serves as proof.
  • Publishing so much wrong information does more harm than good.

Most Objectionable Statements

Part 1

Minnesota owes the Dakota and Ojibwe Indians an apology.
—Incorrect – See above.

The land you are standing on was once Dakota territory.
—Unbalanced – And before this, it was someone else’s territory.

Mnisota Makoce means land where the water reflects the skies or heavens.
—Incorrect – Mnisota is a recent change to the Dakota language. According to Riggs’ Dakota-English Dictionary, the correct spelling is Mi-ni-so-ta. Riggs defines mi-ni as “water”; so-ta as “smoke”; and Mi-ni-so-ta as “whitish water.”

The confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers is known to the Dakota as Bdote and is the site of their origin.
—For more information on the word Bdote see “Definitions” on the top bar.
—Incorrect – That this was the site of Dakota origin is a recent change to Dakota history.

[Map – 1500s Map shows Dakota in most of Minnesota and Ojibwe in the northwest.]
—Incorrect – There were other tribes besides the Dakota and Ojibwe in the area shown.

In the early 1800s, white settlers began calling Minnesota home. This pushed the Dakota and Ojibwe even farther from their original home.
—Incorrect – The Ojibwe pushed the last of the Dakota out of northern Minnesota.
—Unbalanced – Little is said of the long war between the Dakota and Ojibwe.
—What does this mean that white settlers pushed them even farther from their original home?

With the land constantly being stolen away from the native Indians and the colonists wanting more, the Europeans established reservations where the Indians were to move and stay so the colonists could use the land.
—Incorrect, unbalanced and disrespectful – When the Ojibwe migrated into northern Minnesota, they stole land from the Dakota. When the Sioux migrated out of northern Minnesota, they stole land from other tribes. When the whites arrived, they did not steal land; they wrote treaties and bought the land.
—Incorrect – The U.S. Government established reservations.
—Incorrect – The Indians were not confined to the reservations.

[4 Dakota reservations today in Minnesota]
—Incorrect – This should be “Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.”

Lower Sioux Agency Historic Site – Established in 1853
—Incorrect – This should be “Lower Sioux Indian Community” established in the 1880s.

Prairie Island
—Incorrect – This should be “Prairie Island Indian Community.”

“Upper Sioux Agency State Park”
—Incorrect – This should be “The Upper Sioux Community.”

Prior to 1600, the Dakota were the only Indians in Minnesota.
—Incorrect – Minnesota was not a state until 1858.
—Incorrect – There were other Indian tribes in this area.

1650 – Dakota population was 38,000

1745-1750 – Dakota and Ojibwe War

1780 – Dakota population was 25,000

Early 1700s – Ojibwe pushed Sioux to Southern Minnesota
—Incorrect – These are only estimates.
—Incorrect – The war between the Dakota and Ojibwe lasted longer than this.
—Incorrect – The Ojibwe pushed the last of the Dakota out of northern Minnesota.

1826 was the start of the treaty making period…where the U.S. used treaties to take land from the 2 tribes
—Incorrect – 1805 was the first treaty.
—Incorrect – The U.S. used treaties to buy land from the Dakota and Ojibwe.

“1838: Boarding Schools”
—Is this correct? Where were there Dakota and Ojibwe boarding schools in 1838?
—Unbalanced – Boarding schools were good and bad for whites as well as Indians.

By establishing communities where the Dakota were allowed to live, over-crowding and starvation naturally occurred. This gave rise to the Dakota Conflict.
—Incorrect – Communities were not established. The Dakota continued to live in villages as they did before the reservations.
—Incorrect – Many Dakota were starving before the reservations were created. The reservations did not cause the starvation.
—Incorrect – Starvation was one of the many causes of the Dakota War in 1862.

Over 1200 whites and Dakota were killed [during the Dakota War of 1862.
—Incorrect – About 145 Dakota were killed. More than 650 whites were killed. Hundreds died on both sides after the war.

Part 2

Minnesota is the Dakota sacred homeland…Minnesota represents the homeland and birth place of their tribe and culture.
—Unbalanced – Minnesota is also the homeland to many people not just the Dakota. Is it sacred only to the Dakota?
—Incorrect – There is sufficient evidence that the ancestors of the Dakota Indians migrated into this area.

Sioux means “little snakes.”
—Incorrect – Sioux also has other meanings.

[List – 7 bands of the Dakota Tribe – Oceti Sakowin – 7 council fires]
—For more information on the word Bdewakantunwan see “Definitions” on the top bar.

[4 Dakota tribes – Mdewakanton, Sisseton, Wahpeton and Wahpekute]
—Incorrect – These are correctly identified as bands in the previous paragraph.
—Note the spelling here is Mdewakanton not Bdewakanton.

The Dakota were the original inhabitants of part of the land we call today Minnesota.
—Incorrect – This cannot be proven.

Bdote means is the place where two waters come together. Where the Mississippi and Minnesota meet is where Dakota people originated.
—For more information on the word Bdote see “Definitions” on the top bar.
—Incorrect – That the Dakota people originated at mdote is a recent change to Dakota history.

Minnesota was once the exclusive Dakota homeland.—Incorrect – This cannot be proven.


There are 4 Dakota communities in Minnesota: Upper Sioux Community, Lower Sioux Community, Mdewakanton Community and Prairie Island Community.
—Incorrect – These are Upper Sioux Community, Lower Sioux Indian Community, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and Prairie Island Indian Community.
—Incorrect – There are also Dakota communities at Mendota and Pipestone.

Dakota War: 1862 – Causes…
Life style of Dakota people differed greatly from the life style of the colonial people
Years of racism
Corrupt treaty enforcement
Dakota became desperate for a change in the treatment they had been receiving
The savagery of Indian tribes began to cloud the minds of colonial people
Growing misunderstandings of each other would lead to Dakota Conflict of 1862
Dakota began to starve because settlers were taking land, occupying areas used for gaming and withholding food that was promised to them.
On August 15, Little Crow and others went to the post to get the food and money that was promised, but they were denied
—100-150 young Mdewakanton Dakota men made the decision to go to war. Causes of the war must be given in terms of why THEY went to war.
—Incorrect – No primary sources say that life-style differences were a primary cause of the war.
—Incorrect – If there were years of racism, it went both ways.
—Incorrect – Corrupt treaty enforcement is too general. What does this mean?
—Hunger was one of the many primary causes.
—What does this mean that the Dakota became desperate for a change?
—Incorrect – The colonial people did not go war.
—Incorrect – What does growing misunderstandings of each other mean?
—Incorrect – The settlers were not taking land, occupying areas used for gaming or withholding food that was promised to the Dakota.
—Incorrect – Little Crow and others knew the money was late. If they went to the Lower Sioux Agency on August 14, it was to get the food promised them.

Chief Little Crow said, “…When men are hungry they help themselves.”
—Incorrect – These events are out of sequence.

Little Crow reluctantly accepted the tribe’s decision to go to war.
—Incorrect – The “tribe” did not decide to go to war. 100-150 young Mdewakanton Dakota men made the decision to go to war.

Myrick said to Dakota people who wanted to buy food on credit – Let them eat grass…
—Disrespectful and incorrect – Myrick learned that many Dakota men planned to refuse to pay their debts when the annuity money came.

August 17, a Dakota man and a small hunting party killed several settlers after being beaten with a broom.
—Incorrect – It is not known for sure why these Dakota men killed 3 men, 1 woman and a girl. Being beaten with a broom is not a commonly given reason.

The biggest battle was in New Ulm – there were few survivors.
—This is correct if non-combatants and combatants are counted. This is incorrect if only combatants are counted.
—Absolutely incorrect – Few were killed.

The war ended with most Dakota surrendering in mid-September.
—Incorrect – Most of the Dakota at Camp Release were friendly Indians and non-combatants. They did not surrender. They waited for Sibley to arrive.

The post-war exile of the Dakota people was one of the darkest moments in Minnesota’s past.
—Incorrect – Not all of the Dakota were exiled.

Many were held in the Fort Snelling internment camp. Many died in this camp and many were sentenced to death.
—Incorrect – No one in this camp was sentenced to death.

Ramsey stated the Sioux must be exterminated or driven beyond the borders of the state. Bounties were placed on Indians’ heads. Many Indians were killed because of these bounties including Chief Little Crow.
—Disrespectful – Hostile Dakota had just killed more than 650 whites. How should the governor react?
—Unbalanced – The Lower Sioux soldiers’ lodge also offered bounties for white scalps during the war.
—Incorrect – A total of 4 bounties were paid for Dakota scalps. Bounties were not being offered when Little Crow was killed.

The U.S. failed…to uphold the treaties. The Dakota forced between a rock and a hard place and when they followed the U.S. example and abandoned the treaties the U.S. forces attacked them and forced them from their homeland.
—Incorrect – The U.S. failed to keep some of the treaty promises. This was one of the causes of the Dakota War.
—Unbalanced – The hostile Dakota broke treaty promises when they went to war.
—Incorrect – Hostile Dakota men decided to wage a traditional Dakota war of extermination on men, women and children. They were not following the U.S. example.

The Dakota were placed in a no-win situation and the U.S. acted in a savage manner that must be made right.
—Incorrect – The hostile Dakota killed more than 650 whites; some in the worst way imaginable. How should the U.S. have reacted?

We must hold true to the agreed upon treaties and uphold our promises to the Dakota people.
—Incorrect – In the 1970s, the U.S. paid Dakota descendants for the land and annuities that were taken in 1863.

The Dakota people were truly decimated culturally and physically in the Dakota War and its aftermath.
—Unbalanced – Hostile Dakota killed more than 650 whites. Hundreds of whites died after the war as a result of the war.

Part 3

American Indian Boarding Schools
—Unbalanced – This discussion on Indian boarding schools gives worst case examples.
—Incorrect – All Indian children were not forced to go to boarding schools.
—Unbalanced – Indian boarding schools also provided food, shelter, clothing, and education for many children whose parents could not provide for them.

Kill the Indian in Him and Save the Man – The American Indian Genocide.
—Incorrect – This was not genocide.

Forced to stop speaking their language
Forced to cut their hair and wear uniforms
—Unbalanced – Public schools forced children of other ethnic groups to stop speaking their languages, cut their hair and wear uniforms.

Over-crowding and malnutrition caused epidemics of contagious diseases which sometimes led to death.
—Is this correct that Indian boarding schools were over-crowded and children were malnourished?

Part 4

Gaming pacts between tribes and states can be described as economic racism as they are a breech of sovereignty.
—Incorrect – The tribes are not as sovereign as these students think. If this is racism, maybe the tribes should shut down their casinos?

Dakota and Ojibwe history in schools
Why are so many people under-informed about their own history? Is it misrepresented in Minnesota school systems? Is it hidden from us by the government or are we just lying?
—Incorrect – The video shows interviews with about 5 people. The conclusion is “people are under-informed.” This is not good reporting.
—What does this mean? Rather than making exaggerated claims, why not ask and find out?

Lack of education, or even mis-education, means that adult citizens in the state cannot conceive justice for Dakota people, because they do not even recognize the injustice…We must understand the injustice that exists.
—Unbalanced – There is injustice in the education system that taught these students what they are presenting in this video. Look at the many incorrect statements in this video.

Part 5

Working Towards Justice
Things like the Dakota War…are part of a colonialist system that damages native sovereignty identity…We should acknowledge the economy and sovereignty of indigenous people.
—The Indian nations are only as sovereign as the U.S. allows them to be.


It beyond a doubt that the State of Minnesota has insulted, failed, injured and wronged the original inhabitants. So where is this expression of regret? It is high time that the government of Minnesota issued a formal apology to the native people of the land for the crimes and injustices committed against them throughout our state’s history.
—Incorrect – The Dakota were not the original inhabitant of the area that became Minnesota.
—Incorrect – As stated above, the U.S. decided and still decides American Indian policy. The State of Minnesota and its settlers did nothing wrong. No apology is needed.
—Unbalanced – Who apologizes for the whites killed by hostile Dakota in the Dakota War?

Land was founded by forcefully depriving people of their freedom. If Minnesota wants to move a step forward, non-natives would have to be prepared to face the guilt. Settlers made a good living farming the land they took from Ojibwe and Dakota people and continue doing so today. Meanwhile, Native Americans were exiled and sent to barren reservations.
—Unbalanced – Who deprived who of their freedom? The Dakota and Ojibwe killed members of other tribes and took their land. The U.S. wrote treaties.
—Incorrect – The settlers did not take this land.
—Incorrect – Most of the Dakota were exiled because hostile Dakota went to war in 1862.

Despite casino profits, poverty rates run high on reservations as well as alcohol and substance abuse, clearly settlers have profited at the expense of native Minnesotans.
—Incorrect – The settlers did nothing wrong. They did not cause the poverty or the alcohol and substance abuse.

Not only have settlers profited, but they have actively persecuted the native people. The citizens of Minnesota work and live on land that was swindled or forcible taken from American Indians.
—Incorrect – When did the settlers “actively persecuted the native people?”
—Unbalanced – As stated above, the Dakota and Ojibwe killed members of other tribes and took their land. The U.S. wrote treaties. The citizens of Minnesota did nothing wrong.

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