Composite II Essays
Items of Interest
A total of 8 essays are included in this review. These include letters to editors, newspaper and magazine articles, items posted on the internet, etc.
- Unbalanced and Disrespectful – 7 of the 8 essays focus on the Dakota and mention little or nothing about the whites.
Most Objectionable Statements
The Dakota Uprising that began in Minnesota on August 17, 1862…Developing from broken treaties, social and cultural stress, late annuity payments, land hunger, physical hunger, misunderstanding and pride, the conflagration soon encompassed most of the northern and central Great Plains.
—Incorrect – The word “Uprising” is offensive to many people.
—What does “social and cultural stress” and “land hunger” mean?
—The causes of the Dakota War of 1862 were many and complicated. This needs more explanation.
—Incorrect – This was not the start of the northern and central plains wars; it was part of a series of wars that started in the east.
Of the four bands of Dakotas, only two were more or less resolved to kill or drive away the whites. During the most violent first week of the uprising, about 350 settlers were killed.
—Incorrect – Some Sisseton and Wahpeton also participated.
Trader Andrew Myrick’s infamous statement, “Let them eat grass,” was the key insult to the Dakotas that caused them to revolt. An interpreter’s daughter first mentioned it 57 years after the event. Since then, however, the claim that this incited the Dakotas to revolt has proliferated as truth in virtually every subsequent retelling.
—Incorrect – The causes of the Dakota War of 1862 were many and complicated.
—Incorrect – Following the Battle of Birch Coulee, Chief Little Crow stated in his reply to Col. Sibley that this was a cause of the war.
The war began because a few warriors accused each other of being cowards, afraid to steal a white farmer’s hen’s eggs. Little Crow, the Mdewakanton leader, did not want war, but he succumbed when he was called a coward. The disastrous affair commenced for little other reason than a few men could not abide being called “chicken”…
—Incorrect – There are so many versions of the “Acton hen’s eggs story” that it cannot be proven that this happened.
—Incorrect – We cannot say for sure that Chief Little Crow succumbed because he was called a coward.
—Incorrect – The causes of the Dakota War of 1862 were many and complicated. The war would have commenced whether or not Little Crow had accepted the leadership.
The Dakota attacks on Fort Ridgely in Minnesota on August 20 and 22 were close-run struggles. If not for the resolute defenders firing a couple of howitzers, the Dakotas would have taken Fort Ridgely.
—Incorrect – I would not call the August 20 attack on Fort Ridgely a “close-run struggle.”
—Incorrect – At least 3 howitzers were used during the 2nd attack.
—Incorrect – Infantry also prevented the Dakota from taking the fort.
Broken treaties were the obvious crux of the U.S.-Dakota war of 1862.
—Incorrect – The causes of the Dakota War of 1862 were many and complicated.
…many Indian tribes played a form of this game [moccasin game], which originated as a means of avoiding inter-tribal bloodshed. If two tribes wanted to hunt in the same game area, they played the game rather than fight about it. Whoever lost, left, and whoever won, stayed.
—Is this correct? Show proof.
…when whites came to Minnesota they were in a bad situation, and the Dakota gave freely to them with their resources, because in Dakota culture it’s an obligation to help…But when the…Dakota were hurting, whites’ help wasn’t reciprocated. That was problematic for the Dakota because these (white) families they’d helped out in the beginning now had everything.
—Incorrect – Yes, the Dakota helped some whites but not all of them. Yes, some whites did not share, but not all of them.
—Incorrect – The whites did not have everything.
The lands and waters here are very sacred to us…They have a meaning that no one else will understand.
—Incorrect – Not all Dakota feel this way.
—Unbalanced – Some members of other Minnesota ethnic groups also feel this way.
Then, in 1863, the Dakota were forcibly removed again after a bloody five-week conflict…
—Incorrect – Not all of the Dakota were removed.
—Unbalanced – Most of the Dakota were removed because hostile Dakota killed more than 650 white men, women and children.
Today the descendants of the expelled tribes live primarily on two reservations: the Nebraska location and the Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota.
—Incorrect – The descendants also live on the Lake Traverse Reservation in South Dakota, the Spirit Reservation in North Dakota, other reservations and among the whites.
The Santee Dakota Reservation in northeastern Nebraska—established in 1866 by Dakotas fleeing Crow Creek for more favorable living conditions…
—Incorrect – The U.S. established the Santee Reservation for those who wanted to move from Crow Creek.
…growing chorus of indigenous cultural leaders who agree that the reclamation of traditional lands—including prime real estate in the Twin Cities area—is crucial to solving the Dakota crisis…There are innumerable forces working against the reclamation of Dakota Lands, but tribal leaders…say they must succeed—that the very future of the Dakota Nation hinges upon it.
—Incorrect – I disagree that “the very future of the Dakota Nation hinges upon it.”
—Incorrect – Not all Dakota want to move back to Minnesota.
…all of Minnesota is Dakota land. Even though they took it from us, one day we will have it back. One day it will be ours again, when the time is right.
—Incorrect – All of Minnesota was never Dakota land.
—I doubt this prophesy will ever happen.
Holy Indian land is all around us in the Twin Cities. From the backyards of Bloomington to the white cliffs of St. Paul, Dakota bones lie beneath burial mounds. The names of the places where we live bear Dakota names…
—Incorrect – Not all Dakota say this land is sacred.
—The Dakota added remains to some burial mounds which were there when the Dakota arrived in Minnesota.
—Places bear Dakota names because Dakota were here when the whites arrived. There are places in northern Minnesota which bear Ojibway names.
Near I-494 and Post Road…one can still make out Taku Wakan Tipi (Dwelling Place of the Gods), the small earthen prominence known during pioneer times as Morgan’s Hill, believed to be home of Unktehi, god of the waters and underworld. The area is now home to a Super America.
—Incorrect – This was not the location of Taku Wakan Tipi.
When driven from your homeland, and your way of life that you held sacred, that your parents and grandparents and all your people that came before held sacred, when you are an exile in your own land, it changes you spiritually and mentally. So much so that you end up with an affliction akin to chronic depression.
—Incorrect – Maybe some Dakota people suffer from this, but not all do.
Dakota people are up against a mountain of complex challenges…The only solution…is a return to traditional ways of being, which can only occur by reclaiming the land upon which the people once thrived…We need to help young people feel the magic of what it means to be a Dakota. Their disconnection from their own homeland is what’s causing all the problems, and it’s keeping them from being the Great Dakota Nation that they once were, and could be again.
—Incorrect – Land may be part of this, but there are bigger problems that land cannot solve.
The essence of our culture is our connection with our mother the Earth.
—Isn’t this an essence of everyone’s culture?
…the Dakota waged a war in 1862 against the United States, burning white settlements like New Ulm and Upper Sioux Agency to the ground. It was a desperate measure for the Dakota, who were starving even as government stores of food on their reservation overflowed.
—Incorrect – The Dakota did not burn all of New Ulm. The defenders of New Ulm also burned many of their buildings.
—Incorrect – There were stone buildings at the Upper Agency that were not burned to the ground.
—Incorrect – Not all Dakota were starving. The hostile Dakota did not have to kill more than 650 white men, women and children in order to obtain food.
After five weeks of combat, the surviving Dakota were rounded up and held in Fort Snelling before being shipped out of the state.
—Incorrect – Not all were taken to Fort Snelling.
—Incorrect – Not all were removed from the state.
The government imprisoned the Dakota men in a federal penitentiary in Iowa and later hanged 38 of them in Mankato. It remains that largest mass hanging in American history.
—Incorrect – Not all Dakota men were imprisoned.
—Incorrect – The hanging occurred before those at Mankato were removed to Iowa.
—Incorrect – It was the largest simultaneous mass execution in the state.
They had the Minnesota First Regiment dressed-up in Civil War period costume. That’s what the soldiers wore when they attacked our women and children, marched our people to Fort Snelling and hanged 38 of our men.
—Incorrect – The U.S. never knowingly attacked Dakota women and children during the Dakota War of 1862.
—Unbalanced – Hostile Dakota knowingly killed more than 650 white men, women and children during the Dakota War of 1862.
The only way to redress the crimes of genocide the Dakota Nation has endured…is through land reparations. There isn’t a Dakota family that’s not been touched by issues of violence, physical abuse, sexual abuse, chemical dependency, poor health, early mortality and just hundreds of examples of racism…These social ills are what it means on a personal level to carry the legacy of genocide, ethnic cleansing and colonization.
—Incorrect – If genocide and ethnic cleansing was committed against the Dakota, then the Dakota also committed genocide and ethnic cleansing against the whites.
—Incorrect – By 1862, there were some 250 Dakota families on farms because they chose to become farmers as the whites.
—Some Dakota people want to blame the whites for everything bad that is happening today.
People need reminders that this land was occupied by indigenous nations when they got here.
—Unbalanced – Dakota need reminders that this land was occupied by other tribes before they got here.
Non-Indians don’t get this tie to the land that Indian people talk about. For us, land is central to identity.
—All ethnic groups have ties to their land.
If federal treaties and executive orders pertaining to Indian land were properly enforced today…about one quarter of all Minnesota lands south of Interstate 94 would be under Dakota ownership.
—Incorrect – I doubt this very much. In the 1900s, the U.S. reviewed the 1805 Treaty forward. Dakota descendants agreed and received payments for land taken and payments not made.
…for Native people to be whole again, there’s no substitute for reclamation. Land equals hope.
—Incorrect – This is not true for many Dakota people.
…it continues the state of Minnesota’s crusade to say it is OK to invade and occupy other people’s lands. What kind of history is this? Well, it’s not history. It is an act of speech on the part of this white person who is allowed to treat our concomitant history with contempt, an expression that is unsupportable by the facts.
—Unbalanced – This person assumes that the Dakota were always in Minnesota. The facts say they migrated into Minnesota and took land through warfare from other tribes.
The details of the  treaty process are sketchy. But historians say Pike offered a few Dakota leaders a couple hundred dollars in trinkets and whiskey…The treaty promised the Dakota $200,000 for use of the land. But several years later Congress dropped that figure, and paid the Dakota just $2,000.
—Incorrect – If the Dakota opposed this treaty, they could have prevented Fort Snelling from being built. They could have refused the payment when the payment was made.
—Incorrect – The Treaty text provides for $2,000 to be paid.
According to legend, this [mouth of the Minnesota River] is where the Dakota people were put on earth.
—Incorrect – This is a relatively recent belief. For many years, Lake Mille lacs was the Dakota place of creation
37 of the 38 hanged were baptized in Christian churches, some Episcopalian.
—Incorrect – 37 were not baptized.
—Incorrect – None were baptized in Christian churches.
Of about 6,500 Dakota in Minnesota, an estimated 1,000 participated in the war.
—Incorrect – All 6,500 Dakota were not in Minnesota.
—Incorrect – It is not possible to estimate how many participated. This 6,500 figure includes men, women and children.
His name was Taoyateduta, but today most people know him as Little Crow…he is best remembered as a chief of the Mdewakanton Dakota Sioux during the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862…He was a diplomat, adventurer, farmer, family man and Episcopalian.
—Incorrect – He was overall Dakota leader during the war.
—Incorrect – He was not Episcopalian.
On Saturday, 150 years and three days after his death, a ceremony in Hutchinson will remember Taoyateduta. It will be the second event in 12 months that brings together Native Americans and non-natives in an effort to promote understanding, healing and reconciliation.
—Incorrect – Reconciliation is not possible. It is the wrong word.
—Incorrect – Very few, if any, whites are still healing. Many Dakota are not healing.
But tensions grew when the government broke its treaty promises to the Dakota, causing hunger for his [Little Crow] people. The flashpoint came in August 1862, when four young Wahpetons killed several white men and women at the Acton Post Office…
—Incorrect – The causes of the Dakota War are many and complicated.
—Incorrect – One girl was killed at the Acton Township Post Office. Four others were killed at another cabin.
On July 3, 1863, Taoyateduta was fatally shot while foraging for berries with his son north of Hutchinson. Townspeople arrived a few hours later and discovered the dead man was the Dakota chief.
—Incorrect – They did know this was Little Crow until several days later.
This will be a very challenging year — the wounds are still deep
—Incorrect – The wounds are still deep for some.
The year 1862 started with broken promises and starvation for the Dakota, who had been pushed into a narrow strip of reservation land…
—Incorrect – Broken promises and starvation started before 1862.
—Incorrect – Dakota leaders agreed to move.
—Incorrect – At about 10 miles wide and 140 miles long, this was not a narrow strip.
In a situation where it’s so contentious, part of what we’re trying to address through this observance is how we can be a better institution in terms of our relationship with the Dakota…we know there will be people for whom we have to be a thing to be against.
—Unbalanced and Disrespectful – To support this philosophy, this organization was and still is very unbalanced in their products on the Dakota War.
You can get through the Minnesota school system and never hear about the Dakota conflict, and at a national level people are completely clueless…
—Incorrect – This depends upon in which county, you attended school.
Fort Snelling should be torn down or returned because it served as a concentration camp, imprisoning 1,600 starving and diseased Dakota nearby in the winter of 1862-63.
—Incorrect – Fort Snelling was not a concentration camp.
—Incorrect – If anyone was starving, it was because they chose not to eat.
—Incorrect – Not all were diseased.
After the war, brief trials led to more than 300 Dakota braves being sentenced to die…A last-minute reprieve by the state left the list at 38. They were hanged the day after Christmas in Mankato. Among them was a man named Chaska…The noose used to hang him is the one in the historical society’s archives.
—Incorrect – The word “brave” is not politically correct.
—Incorrect – The state did not reprieve any of those sentenced to hang.
—Incorrect – It cannot be proven that this was the noose that hanged Chaska.
…has introduced resolutions to pardon Chaska and to urge Congress to repeal the Dakota Exclusion Act.
—Incorrect – This Chaska was hanged by mistake. He was not condemned by Lincoln. Pardon is the wrong word. Apology is the correct word.
—Incorrect – It was an “Indian removal” and “land allotment” bill. It cannot be repealed. It must be amended.