Review – MHS DW Website (5 of 7)

 Minnesota Historical Society (MHS)
U.S./Dakota War of 1862 Website
http://usdakotawar.org/
5 – War
http://usdakotawar.org/history/war
Reviewed on January 28, 2014 

Items of Interest

 Overall, this is the most balanced part of the 7 parts. However, in the video, Dakota speakers outnumber non-Dakota speakers by 6 to 1. In the main text sections, appearance of the word “Dakota” outnumbers the appearance of white ethnic group names by 38 to 2. But then in one of the “Key People” sections, the whites outnumber the Dakota by 22 to 11.

 General Comments

  • Unbalanced – Besides killing more than 650 whites, hostile Dakota decapitated, dismembered, brained, tortured, and scalped their victims. This was traditional Dakota warfare. Stories of these atrocities are not included. Later, the story is told of a Dakota baby being killed in Henderson. Where is the story of the 2 1/2 year old white girl who was snatched from her mother, held by her feet and dashed against a wagon wheel, her blood and brains spattering over her dying mother?
  • Incorrect and Disrespectful – A newspaper article under “Media Coverage of the War,” states that U.S. interpreter, Peter Quinn, was responsible for “criminal acts of aggression” at the Upper Agency. MHS states this occurred during the war. This is incorrect. It occurred two weeks prior to the war. The Indian Agent blamed Quinn for the break-in of the agency warehouse. Charles Flandrau and Timothy Sheehan later claimed that Quinn was not responsible. I ask that MHS either remove this newspaper item or date and interpret it correctly. 

Most Objectionable Statements 

Video – War

 In the 1860s, more and more settlers were flooding into Minnesota. Game animals were getting scarce. There was growing competition between Dakota People and Euro-Americans hunting for meat.
—Incorrect – Settlers were not competing with the Dakota for game on the reservations. Dakota were competing with settlers for game off the reservations.

Crops had been poor in 1861 and the Dakota had little food stored for the winter.
—The 1861-62 winter was severe. Dakota hunters had little success on their hunts.

They were starving because they were not allowed to go off the rez to hunt. So when the game left for the plains we had nothing left.
—Absolutely incorrect – Every year up to 1862, they were leaving the reservations to hunt.

The payments the Dakota had been promised from selling their land to the U.S. were late. The traders were nervous and many of them cut off credit to Dakota hunters.
—Incorrect – Many traders cut off credit because they learned the Lower Dakota Soldiers’ Lodge planned to refuse to pay their debts when the money arrived.

A government agent refused to distribute food to the Dakota. And although Dakota farmers shared food with their relatives, it wasn’t enough.
—Incorrect – Food was issued to the Upper Dakota and to the Lower Dakota farmers.

When the U.S., who made a pact with us, will not live up to its agreement, we had to then defend ourselves.
—Incorrect – Hostile Dakota attacked and killed more than 550 civilians and 100 soldiers. It was not necessary to kill all these people in order to “defend ourselves”?

Our ancestors fought for our survival. They had to go to war to fight for survival. If they wouldn’t have fought, we would have all just died. We would have starved to death.
—Incorrect – The majority of the Dakota did not go to war.
—Incorrect – The hostile Dakota did not have to kill more than 550 civilians and 100 soldiers in order to obtain food.
—Incorrect – Not all of the Dakota were starving. Food was issued to the Upper Dakota and to the Lower Dakota farmers.
—Incorrect – They all would not have died. By August, crops were ripening. In a matter of days there would be plenty of food. The annuity money arrived at Fort Ridgely on August 18. Within days, it would be paid and food issued to the Lower Dakota.

Four hungry Dakota hunters killed five white settlers at Acton Township, Meeker County.
—Incorrect – It cannot be proven that they were hungry.

Painting – “Fort Ridgely” by James McGrew
—Incorrect – The painting image is reversed.

What if a foreign country were encroaching on your land, would you retaliate or would you keep moving and let them take your land? We need to see the minds of the Dakota saying we are warriors.
—Unbalanced – The Dakota killed members of other tribes and took their land.
—Incorrect – Dakota leaders agreed to sell their land and move onto reservations.

38 Dakota men were hanged in the largest mass execution in U.S. history. Months dragged into years of imprisonment, destitution, displacement and death.
—Incorrect – This was the largest simultaneous mass execution in U. S. history.
—Unbalanced – The mass- murder of more than 550 white civilians by Indians was the largest mass-murder of civilians by Indians in U.S. history.
—Unbalanced – What happened to the whites who survived the Dakota War?

There must have been a lot of them that died there [Fort Snelling]. And what happened to them?
—Unbalanced – What happened to the more than 650 white civilians and soldiers that were killed by hostile Dakota?

End-of-Video

A Map of the U.S.-Dakota War
—This did not display nor did I get a message that my software could not display it. 

Causes of the War

 —100-150 members of a Lower Dakota Soldiers’ Lodge made the decision for war. Causes must be stated in terms of why these men went to war.

 Hunger was widespread throughout Dakota lands in Minnesota.  Since crops had been poor in 1861, the Dakota had little food stored for the “starving winter” of 1861-62. Their reservation supported no game, and increasing settlement off the reservation meant more competition with Euro-Americans hunting for meat.
—Incorrect – Not all of the Dakota were starving.
—Mention needs to be made of the bad winter conditions. The Dakota hunters had little success. Maybe we should blame “Mother Nature” for the food shortage?
—Incorrect – There were 2 Dakota reservations.
—Incorrect – The Indian Agent did issue food during this winter.
—Incorrect – The Dakota were competing with the settlers for the available game off the reservations.

Reports about government agents’ corrupt treatment of the Dakota were ignored…Finally, a delayed treaty payment made traders nervous, and many of them cut off credit to Dakota hunters. Indian Agent Thomas Galbraith refused to distribute food to the Dakota, and though Dakota farmers shared food with their relatives throughout the summer of 1862, it wasn’t enough.
—Disrespectful – The American Civil War was in progress. The North was doing poorly in the early stages of the war. Undoubtedly, this drew all of the U.S. government’s attention.
—Incorrect – Many traders cut off credit because they learned that the Lower Dakota Soldiers’ lodge planned to refuse to pay their debts when the annuity money arrived.
—Incorrect – Galbraith did issue food to the Upper Dakota and to the Lower Dakota farmers. 

A Hard Decision

 The night of the killings at Acton, soldiers’ lodge members gathered to decide whether to declare war…
—Incorrect – This soldiers’ lodge should be identified as the Lower Dakota Soldiers’ Lodge. 

Repeated Warnings

—Disrespectful – The American Civil War started in 1861. The North was doing poorly in the early stages of the war. Rather than charging the federal government with ignoring these warnings, it should be explained why these warnings were minor in comparison to saving the union.
—These warnings need to be compared to causes of the Dakota War. Which of these warnings actually became causes of the war?
—The only truth in the New Ulm petition is that the annuities were late. The rest of the petition was based on rumors. Prove that these rumors were correct.

Records of the Interior show that warnings like Day’s were sent from all over the United States. Unfortunately, they were so common by 1862 that the government was no more alarmed than the father of the little boy who cried, Wolf!
—Incorrect – No doubt the American Civil War was considered more important than these charges, warnings and rumors. 

During the War

No comment 

Timeline of War: 

August 17: Four young Dakota men murder five white settlers near Acton Township, Meeker County. Fleeing to their village, they beg for protection. Leaders of the soldiers’ lodge appeal to Little Crow (Taoyateduta) to lead them in war on the whites. Reluctantly, he agrees.
—Incorrect – The settlers were murdered in Acton Township, Meeker County.
—Incorrect – They did not beg for protection. At one point they offered to give themselves up.
—Incorrect – It was a Lower Dakota Soldiers’ Lodge.

The Acton Incident
http://usdakotawar.org/history/acton-incident

The incident in Acton Township, near present-day Grove City, Minnesota, is often cited as the moment when the U.S.-Dakota War began.
—Incorrect – The murders in Acton started the war. This was not the start of the war. 

[Story of the murders in Acton Township]
—Incorrect – There are many versions of this story. It cannot be proven that this story is correct.
—Incorrect – Parts of this story disagree with eyewitness accounts.

New Ulm comes under siege…The following day the people of New Ulm elect Judge Charles Flandreau, a prominent citizen from St. Peter, as their military commander.
—Incorrect – Mention needs to be made of the many volunteers who came from other towns to help defend New Ulm.
—Incorrect – The defenders voted to elect Flandrau as their commander. 

The Dakota Peace Party

 When the war ended many within the Peace Party, as well as some Dakota soldiers, surrendered to Col. Sibley and the U.S. military at “Camp Release” (near present-day Montevideo).
—Incorrect – The men in the Peace Party were also soldiers. They did not surrender because they were on the side of the U.S. Army.  Many non-Peace Party soldiers surrendered. 

After 303 Dakota men were convicted for their participation in the war, Col. Sibley removed the remaining Dakota non-combatants (approximately 1,600 people, mostly women, children, and the elderly) to Fort Snelling where they spent the winter in a cramped internment camp for civilians. Between 130 and 300 people died from illness within the camp, and the following spring they were forcibly relocated to the Crow Creek reservation in Dakota Territory.
—Incorrect – More than 303 were convicted.
—Incorrect – Sibley was a general.
—Incorrect – There were also Peace Party soldiers in this camp.
—Incorrect – The official records say that 130 died in this camp.
—Incorrect – Not all were removed to Crow Creek. 

Media Coverage of the War

 October 25, 1862 – Newspaper reports stoked fears and demands for retribution. Accounts of battles, injuries and deaths, families torn apart, communities ravaged–these were the subjects that grabbed readers’ attention during and after the war. By reviewing the many eyewitness accounts and first-person narratives that were published, some factual and some exaggerated, it is easy to understand why panic swept the state. 
—Incorrect – Hostile Dakota had just killed more than 550 innocent civilians; some in the worst way imaginable. Hostile Dakota had just killed more than 100 white soldiers. These are the facts. This is why panic swept the state. 

Related Images:

 [Newspaper Item] – “The Late Indian Disturbances at the Upper Sioux Agency”
It would appear that the United States Interpreter at Fort Ridgely is, in part, responsible for the acts of aggression committed by the Indians – he having suggested to them the criminal acts of aggression committed by the Indians…The Interpreter has been disposed of by Captain Marsh…who…properly arrested him, and conveyed him to Fort Ridgely, where he is now imprisoned.
—Absolutely Incorrect – This newspaper item states that the U.S. interpreter, Peter Quinn, was responsible for events at the Upper Agency. MHS interpretation states that this occurred during the war. This is incorrect. This occurred two weeks prior to the war. Hungry Dakota broke into the Upper Agency warehouse. They retreated when threaten by U.S. soldiers. The Indian Agent, blamed Quinn for the break-in. Charles Flandrau and Timothy Sheehan later claimed that Quinn was not responsible. MHS needs to either remove this item or date and interpret it correctly.
—Unbalanced – Where are the newspaper accounts on the atrocities committed by the hostile Dakota?

Key People:

—After viewing an image, clicking on “X” does not work.
—Unbalanced – I count 22 images related to whites and 11 images related to Dakota. The whites outnumber the Dakota by 2 to 1.

Timothy J. Sheehan
On June 29, 1862 the detachment [Sheehan’s company] was sent to the Upper Sioux Agency to maintain order during the event of a late annuity payment from the U.S. government to the Dakota, where Sheehan goaded Galbraith into distributing food, after much disagreement.
—Incorrect – Sheehan was sent to the Upper Agency because the annuity was late. Angry Dakota were gathering there.
—Incorrect – Captain Marsh “goaded” Galbraith into distributing food.

Thomas P. Gere
Commanding 25 soldiers, and caring for hundreds of terror-ridden refugees fleeing attacks, Gere Gov. Ramsey and Fort Snelling asking for reinforcements.
—Incorrect – Gere had 22 able-bodied soldiers.
—Incorrect – Words are missing after “Gere”.

Chaska
Deciding to spare Wakefield after Hapan killed Mr. Gleason–the wagon owner–Chaska took her and her children under his protection throughout the six weeks of battles…
—Chaska had tried to kill Gleason but his gun misfired.

Sarah F. Wakefield
Chaska was among those whose sentence was commuted during the trials after the war, largely in part due to the testimony of Wakefield.
—Is this correct – did Lincoln commute his sentence because of Sarah Wakefield?
—Incorrect – There is more to this story than is being presented here.

Charles Flandrau
The following day the people of New Ulm elected Judge Charles Flandrau, a prominent citizen from St. Peter, as their military commander.
—Mention should be made of the many volunteers who came from other towns to help defend New Ulm.
—Incorrect – The defenders elected Flandrau as commander.

Mary Anderson
When the war began, Mary Anderson was a housekeeper living near the Lower Sioux Agency with the family of Joseph B. Reynolds. The family was attacked by the Dakota at the Lower Agency. Mary was shot while trying to escape, and died in capitivity a few days later. The Reynold’s niece, Mattie Williams, and Mary Schwandt were taken prisoner at the same time.
—Incorrect – The Reynolds’ residence was at least 7 miles from the Lower Sioux Agency.
—Incorrect – Reynolds and his family escaped to Fort Ridgely. Mary Anderson and others were attacked about 20 miles east of the Lower Sioux Agency.
—Incorrect – Capitivity and Reynold’s are misspelled.

Roseanna Webster
[Photo of Acton Monument]
The grave of Roseanna Webster
—Incorrect – This is the Acton Monument on the former site of the Baker farm. It is not a grave site nor is Roseanna Webster buried here.

Anna Jane Riggs
She lived with her parents and siblings at their mission Hazelwood on the Upper Reservation in Minnesota.
—Incorrect – Hazelwood should be Hazlewood.

Tiwakan (Gabriel Renville)
After the end of the war he and his family were sent to the internment camp for civilians at Fort Snelling…Tiwakan later became a leader on the Sisseton Reservation…
—Incorrect – Gabriel Renville chose to go to the internment camp.
—Incorrect – Gabriel Renville and others in the Fort Snelling camp had been soldiers during the Dakota War.
—Incorrect – It was the Lake Traverse Reservation.
—Disrespectful – He was elected overall Chief of the Sisseton and Wahpeton.

Wakute
Wakute (Wacouta) was a Mdewakanton chief who opposed the war. He was imprisoned in the aftermath at Fort Snelling and then Mankato.
—Incorrect – Fort Snelling was not a prison camp.
—Incorrect – I cannot find that he was at Mankato.

Mankato
Born about 1822, Mankato was the son of Good Road, for whose family the village “Mankato” was named.
—Incorrect – The City of Mankato was named after the Blue Earth River. “Mankato” is a form of the Dakota word for blue earth.

Thomas J. Galbraith
News of the outbreak of war overtook Galbraith and his recruits at St. Peter on August 19.
—Disrespectful – No mention is made that he issued food to the Upper Dakota and to the Lower Dakota farmers prior to the Dakota War.
—Incorrect – News reached them on August 18.

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