Review – MHS DW Website (3 of 7)

Minnesota Historical Society (MHS)
U.S./Dakota War of 1862 Website
http://usdakotawar.org/
3 – Newcomers
http://usdakotawar.org/history/newcomers
Reviewed on January 24, 2014
Updated on March 17, 2016

Items of Interest

General Comments

  • Unbalanced – In this section, there should be an unbalanced discussion in favor of the settlers in Minnesota. Instead, there is a long discussion of U.S. Indian policy, Indian agencies, Indian reservations and Indian boarding schools.
  • Unbalanced – The word “Dakota” appears 34 times in this text. The total count of the names of the white ethnic groups is 3.
  • Unbalanced – The words “German”, “Swedish”, “Sweden”, “Norwegian” and “Norway” do not appear in this text at all. It is as if these groups were not involved in the Dakota War of 1862. This is not right that MHS does this.

Most Objectionable Statements

Video – Newcomers

We didn’t own the land. It belonged to everybody. So we were willing to share with others we felt needed…The generosity was used against us.
—Incorrect – If the land belonged to everybody, why did the Dakota want to be paid for the land?
—What does this mean – how was the generosity used against us?

Regardless of whatever happened to the Germans, they were encroaching on our way of life; our land.
—Incorrect – Dakota leaders sold their land. Settlers settled on this ceded land. A few settlers mistakenly settled on reservation land. The U.S. was in process of removing them in 1862. Each year Dakota hunters left the reservations to hunt in their former hunting grounds. They competed with the settlers for the available game.

End-of-Video

The Development of the United States from First Nations to Hawaii’s Statehood
This map shows the original inhabitants of North America but focuses on government land cessions that opened up Native lands for settlement.
—Incorrect – I do not see a map nor do a see any message that my software will not permit me to see this map.

Traders

By the 1830s the fur trade had declined dramatically due to changes in fashion, the availability of less expensive materials for hat-making, and because available game in Dakota and Ojibwe hunting grounds had been reduced by competition with European immigrants.
—Incorrect – Prior to the Treaty of 1837, the primary competition for the available game was among the Indians. The Treaties of 1837 and 1851 permitted immigrants to hunt on land ceded in these treaties. The Dakota continued to hunt on the ceded land, competing with immigrants for the available game.

Kinship and Newcomers

Trade was a social as well as an economic function that could work only after the proper kinship and alliance pledges had been established.
—Incorrect – They did not have to establish kinship pledges in order to trade.

Often, European understanding of the importance of these kinships bonds were not the same as the Dakota’s.
—What does this mean?

For newcomers to Minnesota during the land-rush days of the 1850s and 1860s, there was little incentive to form relationships with the Dakota. Some meaningful cross-cultural friendships developed. But neither side–not the settlers seeking land on which to make a new start, nor the Dakota watching their land base shrink–had much reason to find common ground. 
—Incorrect – There were more friendships between the whites and the Dakota than this statement implies. Many whites were warned to flee prior to the Dakota War in 1862. Many whites were protected by friends among the Dakota during the war.

U.S. Government and Military

No comment

 

Indian Agencies

No comment

 

Fort Snelling

I don’t think we need forts in the United States anymore. Because their usefulness is no longer beneficial to us today. And so I think we’ve outgrown those structures of colonial dominance over Native American people. If we expect Native American people to be a part of and proud of who they are and a part of American society, we need to start to make concessions, historical concessions of reconciliation.
—What does this mean – we don’t need forts such as Fort Hood or we don’t need historical fort sites such as Fort Snelling?
—What does this mean – “historical concessions of reconciliation” and what is this doing here?

The junction of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers is a place of major social, cultural, and historical significance to all people inhabiting the region, a place whose history evokes both pride and pain. For Dakota people it is a historical gathering place, the site of the Bdote creation story, and a place of internment and exile after the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.
—Unbalanced – Why this switch to a discussion what this site means to the Dakota?
—For more information on the word Bdote see “Definitions” on the top bar.
—Incorrect – See Gideon Pond, “Gatherings from the Traditional History of the Mdewakantonwan Dakotas”, Dakota Tawaxitku Kin, September 1851. “…That the mouth of the Minnesota river (Watpa Minisota) lies immediately over the centre of the earth and under the centre of the heavens.” Pond did not say the mouth of the Minnesota River was a place of creation. In the same article, Pond wrote, “The Mdewakantonwan tradition…asserts that they sprang into existence about the lakes at the head of Rum river.” This is the Lake Mille lacs area.

Federal Acts and Assimilation Policies

—Unbalanced – Why is this discussion on Federal Indian policy included under “Newcomers”?
—Unbalanced – There is much information focused on the Dakota after the Dakota War of 1862. Where is the information about the settlers after the Dakota War? 

 

What is a Reservation?

—Unbalanced – Why are reservations being discussed under “Newcomers”?

This is not where my people were from.
—What does this mean?

A detailed map of reservations
http://howlingwolf.free.fr/Indian_Reservations/today.html
 —Incorrect – Three of Minnesota’s Dakota reservations are not shown.

Indian Boarding Schools

—Unbalanced – Why are Indian Boarding Schools being discussed under “Newcomers”?
—Unbalanced – Where is the discussion of white boarding schools?

U.S. Army officer Richard Henry Pratt founded the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in 1879…Pratt, who believed in “assimilation through total immersion” said in a speech in 1892: “A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one. In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him and save the man.”
—Unbalanced – At a later commemoration of Carlisle, Jim Thorpe’s daughter stated that her father said his days at Carlisle were the best days of his life.

As the Carlisle model was more widely adopted by the U.S. government, and religious denominations continued opening schools, thousands of Indian children were often forcibly separated from their families and tribes and sent to boarding schools, sometimes far from their home reservations.
—Unbalanced – Boarding schools provided food and clothing to Indian children mostly from poor homes. If not for boarding schools, these children would have suffered more.

When they arrived at school, students were given English names, short haircuts, and uniforms. They were not allowed to speak their own languages, often facing punishment for doing so, and were forced to take on Christianity.  Overcrowding, poor sanitary conditions, and infectious disease were common in many schools. Students often ran away in an effort to get home, and others died during their stay.
—Unbalanced – Now compare this to conditions in white boarding schools.

While some Indians felt oppression and trauma from their boarding school experiences, others used the schools to their advantage and have positive memories. Indian peoples continue to remember and retell this history and seek to educate others about the variety of their experiences. 
—Good comment

In Canada, the government made an official apology. Watch “Apology to Former Students of Indian Residential Schools.”
—Why is this video on Canadian Indian Boarding Schools being presented here? What does this have to do with the Dakota War of 1862 and the Newcomers?

To learn more, watch “An Overdue Apology”, a project by the University of Minnesota Students.
—This has been previous reviewed on this blog. See “U of M Overdue Apology Video.”

Settlers

By 1858, almost all Indian lands in Minnesota had been ceded or set aside for future sale.   
—Is this correct? What about the Ojibwe and Winnebago lands?

Western gold rushes, the Civil War (1861-65), and the completion of the transcontinental railroad system (1869) dramatically propelled white expansion westward.
—What does this have to do with the Dakota War of 1862?

With the General Allotment Act of 1887, which gave small parcels of tribally held lands to individual Indians while opening up reservations for white settlement, the land held by Indian people continued to dwindle.
—What does this have to do with the Dakota War of 1862?

Missionaries

—Unbalanced – Where is the discussion of missionaries, missions and Christian Dakota? Instead, there is a brief discussion of missionaries and a brief discussion of the Doctrine of Discovery.

The Doctrine of Discovery

The doctrine has been cited as recently as 2005 in the decision City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York.
—What does this have to do with the Dakota War of 1862?

Different Lifeways Collide

—Unbalanced – This turns into a discussion on what happened to the Dakota.

At the root of everything, factionalism was created when immigrants came to our way of living.  And I think this factionalism was destructive to our people.
—Unbalanced – Dakota Indians chose to adapt to the ways of the whites. The factionalism was caused by traditional Dakota who did not want to see their people do this.

However, for newcomers to Minnesota during the land-rush days of the 1850s and 1860s, there was little incentive to form relationships with the Dakota. Some meaningful cross-cultural friendships developed. But neither group–not the settlers seeking land on which to make a new start, nor the Dakota watching their land base shrink–had much reason to find common ground. 
—Incorrect – There were more friendships between the whites and the Dakota than this statement implies. Many whites were warned to flee prior to the Dakota War in 1862. Many whites were protected by friends among the Dakota during the war.

Loss of hunting lands through treaties made the Dakota increasingly dependent on government goods.
—Incorrect – The Dakota over-hunted their land. They signed the treaties of 1837 and 1851 because they were starving. Land without food had no value to the Dakota. They continued to hunt on the ceded land, competing with the whites for the available game.

The benefits of the Treaty of 1858 applied only to farmers. As the government hoped, it was powerful coercion to acculturate: the government made sure farmers and their families always had food to eat. 
—Incorrect – There were 2 treaties in 1858.
—Incorrect – All Dakota were given the opportunity to become farmers.
—Incorrect – These benefits applied to all Dakota: The 1858 Treaties paid them the 2nd time for the north half of their reservations and they were given ownership of the southern half of their reservations.

Many more responded to the financial inducements offered under the Treaty of 1858 by incorporating features of white culture into their own.
—What does this mean?

Other Dakota people, often called “blanket Indians,” continued to follow their traditional way of life and found themselves at odds with the U.S. government, settlers, and other Dakota, which led to greater factionalism within the community. Societies such as the Soldiers’ Lodge, a group of traditional Dakota men, hoped to protect the Dakota way of life.  
—Incorrect – To some today, “blanket Indian” is an offensive term. Traditional Indian is preferred.
—Incorrect – A major source of factionalism was caused by the traditional Indians opposing the farmers and Christians.
—Incorrect – The Soldiers’ Lodges wanted to protect their own way of life.

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