Review – MHS DW Website (6 of 7)

Minnesota Historical Society (MHS)
U.S./Dakota War of 1862 Website
6 – Aftermath
Reviewed on January 30, 2014 

Items of Interest

There are a couple of excellent maps: one on the “Settler Deaths by Location” and one on the “Dakota Diaspora after 1862.” 

General Comments

  • Given the title of this part, I expected it to be balanced. However:
  • The “Aftermath” video has 5 Dakota and zero non-Dakota speakers.
  • In the main text sections, including the “Aftermath” video, there is more than 7 times as much text on the Dakota than on the settlers.
  • In the main text sections, not including the videos, the word “Dakota” appears 66 times while all the white ethnic group names appear 2 times.
  • In the “Internment Camp” video, there are 4 Dakota speakers and zero non-Dakota speakers.
  • Incorrect – This part shows that using quotes extracted from interviews is not a good idea if accuracy is desired.
  • Incorrect – Screens are not in chronological sequence. The heading options on 2 of the screens are wrong.

Most Objectionable Statements

Video – Aftermath 

[Painting of Indians on the march being guarded by soldiers]
This is cited in the MHS “Minnesota River Valley Tour” as “Captured prisoners.” 1868, Kansas Historical Society
—I cannot find this painting on the Kansas Historical Society website.
—Incorrect – This does not represent either Dakota march in 1862. There are too many errors. I suspect this is a march of another Indian group.

They were taken by barge down the Mississippi…
—Incorrect – They were taken by steamboats down the Mississippi.

My family is scattered everywhere – Sioux Valley, Pipestone Creek, Crow Creek, Santee, Flandreau.
—Unbalanced – Many Dakota and white families are scattered everywhere.

 The government began paying bounties for Dakota scalps.
—Unbalanced – Dakota also offered bounties for white scalps during the Dakota War.

Being Dakota means that you were guilty before any consideration of being innocent.
—Unbalanced – What about the more than 550 innocent white civilians killed by hostile Dakota during the Dakota War? They were judged and killed without trials.

Families were torn apart. I wonder how my relatives made it through all that.
—Unbalanced – Many Dakota and white families were torn apart.

1863 expedition against the Dakota Indians…turned into a long series of wars…ending with the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890.
—Unbalanced – The mass murder of more than 550 white civilians by hostile Dakota during the Dakota War was also a massacre.

Today, Dakota in Minnesota, what they went through; it overwhelms me. It takes me to why my people are the way we are today, why we haven’t healed. It takes me back to praying for those ancestors. I am here because they survived.
—Incorrect – Not all Dakota people are healing today.
—Unbalanced – We are all here because our Dakota and white ancestors survived.


 [Map] – “Dakota Diaspora after 1862”
—Excellent map! But:
—What does this mean? Without explanation of the different lines and locations, this is too complicated for most people to understand.
—Incorrect – The line from Crow Creek to Santee should say 1866.
—Incorrect – The small line from Davenport to Santee is not dated; nor does it have arrows.
—Incorrect – There is an arrow at Santee with no line attached.
—Incorrect – There are 3 small lines without arrows, southeast of the Lake Traverse Reservation.

Historians have names for 32 of the estimated 75-100 Dakota soldiers who died during the war (and before the executions on December 26).
—Incorrect – Lt. Thomas Gere wrote that no less than 100 Dakota were killed in the Battles of Fort Ridgely.

More than one-quarter of the Dakota people who surrendered in 1862 died during the following year.
—Incorrect – Most of those at Camp Release did not surrender. The percentage of deaths among those who surrendered was higher than this.
—Unbalanced – Dr. Asa Daniels attended refugees in St. Peter after the war. In 1910, he wrote:
“The loss of life that followed, directly and indirectly, as the result of the outbreak in the many settlements across the extensive frontier, has never been known, but must have been large.  From a somewhat careful observation, and consultation with parties who had good means of judging, the writer is of the opinion that the loss from disease and battle, and that in frontier settlements, resulting from the outbreak, must have been as large as that suffered directly from the hands of the Indians.”

After their exile from Minnesota, the Dakota faced concentration onto reservations, pressure to assimilate, and opening of reservation land for white settlement.
—Incorrect – Not all Dakota were concentrated onto reservations.
—What does this mean – opening of reservation land for white settlement?

…reservations created at Santee, Nebraska (1869)…Flandreau…Another group left the Sisseton Reservation and settled at Brown Earth, South Dakota, in 1874.
—Incorrect – According to their website, the Santee Reservation was established in 1866.
 —Incorrect – The first Dakota at Brown Earth arrived in late 1875 or early 1876.
—Establishment of Flandreau and Brown Earth shows that the Dakota were not confined to their reservations. 

Forced Marches and Imprisonment

 Video – Internment Camp

In 1819, the U.S. Army built a fort at the junction of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, a place that is the sacred center of the Dakota Homeland.
—Incorrect – Construction began in 1819.
—Incorrect – If this was a sacred center, the Dakota would not have allowed the fort to be built here.
—What does this mean – “the Dakota”? Does Dakota mean the 7 bands or only the 4 eastern bands of the Sioux Nation?

The fort would also become for more than 1700 Dakota people, a place of disease, brutality and death.
—Incorrect – When was brutality committed?

[Painting of Indians on the march being guarded by soldiers]
[This is cited in the MHS “Minnesota River Valley Tour” as “Captured prisoners.” 1868, Kansas Historical Society.]
—I cannot find this painting on the Kansas Historical Society website.
—Incorrect – This does not represent either Dakota march in 1862. There are too many errors. I suspect this is a march of another Indian group.

In early November 1862, U.S. soldiers gathered these survivors of the Conflict, mostly women, children and elders who had surrendered and forced them to march from the Lower Sioux Agency to Fort Snelling; a distance of more than 100 miles.
—Incorrect – The Friendly Dakota did not surrender.
—Incorrect – They were not force-marched.

Unlike the more than 300 captured Dakota warriors, most of these survivors had not been sentenced to death or prison but they were to be held at an internment camp surrounded by a high stockade and located on flat land below the fort. Here they would spend a harsh winter awaiting their fate.
—Incorrect – None of them had been sentenced to death or prison.
—Incorrect – the high stockade was built to protect them from the angry whites.
—Unbalanced – Whether they were left out on the prairie or brought into Fort Snelling, the winter was the same.

That confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers is a real important site to Dakota people…that’s where the concentration camp was…it is a place of rebirth and birth…
—Incorrect – Some people call this a concentration camp to evoke images of Nazi concentration camps. This was not a concentration camp.
—What does this mean – “place of rebirth”?

Armed soldiers and angry white settlers harassed and brutalized the Dakota interned at the site.
—Incorrect – When was brutality committed? When did armed soldiers harass Dakota?

Estimates of deaths in the camp that winter range from 100-300, mostly due to outbreaks of measles and other diseases.
—Incorrect – The official number of deaths was 130.
—Unbalanced – How many white victims of the Dakota War died that winter?

And there must have been a lot of them that died there and what happened to them – expendable, I guess.
—Unbalanced – What happened to the more than 550 white civilians killed by hostile Dakota? Were they expendable?

In spring 1863, U.S. Government officials declared that almost all Dakota were to be exiled permanently from the state.
—Incorrect – They were not “permanently” exiled.


On November 8, 1862, Sibley and his military forces began the journey to move the 303 condemned men from the Lower Sioux Agency to a prison camp in Mankato where the executions were to take place.
—Incorrect – Other Dakota were also included in this group.

The prisoners, shackled together in horse-drawn wagons, were attacked by a mob on the outskirts of New Ulm on November 9…Sibley arrested several New Ulm men…and forcing them to accompany the convoy to Mankato…Then he made them walk home.
—Incorrect – Those who were arrested were taken to the next camp, probably near Judson, and released.

On April 22, 1863, the prisoners convicted by the military commission who had been imprisoned at Mankato but were spared execution were sent by steamboat to a military prison in Davenport, Iowa.  
—There were also innocent Dakota men in this group who were dropped off at Fort Snelling.

[Photo] – “Fort Snelling internment, or concentration camp, 1862”
—Incorrect – This was not a concentration camp.

For six days beginning November 7, 1862, about 1,700 Dakota people (mostly women and children) who had not been sentenced to death or prison were removed from the Lower Agency to Fort Snelling…
—Incorrect – It is not known for certain which day they left the Lower Agency.

[In Henderson], Brown called the settler mob “as bad as Savages,” and wrote that he witnessed “an enraged white woman . . . snatch a nursing babe from its mother’s breast and dash it violently to the ground.”  The baby was returned to its mother, but it later died and its body was “quietly laid away in the crotch of a tree,” according to Dakota custom.
—Unbalanced – Where are the graphic details of white babies that were killed by hostile Dakota during the war?

Estimates of deaths in the [Fort Snelling Dakota] camp range from 102 to 300, most due to outbreaks of measles and other diseases that were also sweeping through St. Peter and other communities where war refugees were gathered. 
—Incorrect – The official number of deaths was 130.

Tiwakan (Gabriel Renville), a Sisseton Dakota held at the Ft. Snelling internment camp
—Incorrect – Renville was also part white. 

Davenport Prisoner Letters

 The Dakota Prisoner of War Letters: Dakota Kaskapi Okicize Wowapi, which contains fifty letters translated by Clifford Canku and Michael Simon, will be published in 2013 by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.
—Incorrect – Others also helped translate these letters. 

Camp Release

—No comment. 

The Trials and Hanging 

—Incorrect – This screen’s heading selections are wrong.

 The trials of the Dakota were conducted unfairly in a variety of ways. The evidence was sparse, the tribunal was biased, the defendants were unrepresented in unfamiliar proceedings conducted in a foreign language, and authority for convening the tribunal was lacking. More fundamentally, neither the Military Commission nor the reviewing authorities recognized that they were dealing with the aftermath of a war fought with a sovereign nation and that the men who surrendered were entitled to treatment in accordance with that status.
—Unbalanced – Where is the discussion of the Dakota trial system?
—Unbalanced – Of the trials, Walt Bachman wrote, “The post-war military trials, because they were held in secret in locations too remote to permit most settler survivors to participate, were also unfair to the families of hundreds of noncombatant victims slain by Dakota warriors. President Lincoln ameliorated the overreaching finding of 303 death sentences by ordering the execution of only the 38 Dakota men shown by the court records to be guilty of the war crimes – mainly murder or rape. See Bachman, Northern Slave, Black Dakota…

When only two men were found guilty of rape, Lincoln expanded the criteria to include those who had participated in “massacres” of civilians rather than just “battles.”
 —Is this correct? – This wording implies that if more rapes had been found, Lincoln would have stopped there. Prove this is correct.

At 10:00 am on December 26, 38 Dakota prisoners were led to a scaffold specially constructed for their execution.
—Incorrect – Some of these men were mixed-bloods and one was white. 

As the men took their assigned places on the scaffold, they sang a Dakota song as white muslin coverings were pulled over their faces. Drumbeats signalled the start of the execution.
—Incorrect – signalled is misspelled.

Punitive Expeditions

 —Incorrect – The heading selections are wrong. 

[Quote] – Samuel Brown, a language interpreter during Sully’s expedition, 1863
…he [Sully] pitched into their camp and just slaughtered them, worse a great deal than what the Indians did in 1862, he killed very few men and took no hostile ones prisoners… If he had killed men instead of women & children, then it would have been a success, and the worse of it, they had no hostile intention whatever…
—Is this correct – was Brown on the Sully expedition?
—Unbalanced – Perhaps if the hostile Dakota had not killed about 140 white women and children during the Dakota War, a year before, this massacre of Dakota women and children would not have happened. 


 After the war, bounties were offered for Dakota scalps.
—Unbalanced – During the war, Dakota offered bounties for white scalps.

On July 4, 1863, in response to raids by Dakota in southern Minnesota, the state’s Adjutant-General, Oscar Malmros, issued a general order for the establishment of a mounted corps of “volunteer scouts”…The scouts…were offered an additional $25 for Dakota scalps. A reward of $75 a scalp was offered to people not in military service; that amount was raised to $200 on September 22. Period newspapers described the taking of many scalps.
—Absolutely Incorrect – 4 bounties were paid. If the newspapers described the taking of “many scalps”, the stories of these 4 scalps must been repeated by other newspapers.

Taoyateduta (Little Crow)
[Graphic details of his death]
—Unbalanced – Where are the graphic details of a white being killed, dismembered and scalped by hostile Dakota?

Late in the afternoon of July 3, 1863, while Little Crow gathered berries in a thicket northwest of Hutchinson with his son Wowinape, Nathan Lamson and his son, Chauncey, saw them and opened fire…Nathan Lamson later received a $500 check from the State of Minnesota; his son, Chauncey, also collected a bounty.
—Incorrect – These were awards. Bounties were not being offered when Little Crow was killed. 


 [Officials] built a box and put the beef in it and steamed it and made soup . . . and that is the reason these hills here are filled with children’s graves; it seemed as though they wanted to kill us.
—Is this correct – this soup is the reason the hills were filled with children’s graves?
—Unbalance – How many lives did this soup save?

Acts of Congress in February and March 1863 abrogated, or revoked, all treaties between the U.S. government and the Santee Dakota. As a result, all but a few protected groups of Dakota were exiled from Minnesota. Minnesota’s Ho-Chunk Indians…eleven of whom were tried for participation in the war–were also expelled from the state. This expulsion ushered in an era of bare survival for the Dakota, as well as the disintegration of many families.
—Incorrect – 14 Ho-Chunk were tried and all were found innocent.
—Unbalanced – How many white families disintegrated as a result of the Dakota War.

In May of 1863 1,300 Dakota were loaded onto steamboats and sent to Crow Creek reservation. Crowded onto the boats and weakened by imprisonment, many died on the voyage. The new reservation was desolate and food was scarce. In the first six months at Crow Creek more than 200 Dakota people died, most of them children.
—Incorrect – “Many” did not die on the voyage.
—Incorrect – One estimate put the number who died at Crow Creek closer to 300.

By the time they were sent to Crow Creek, most of the people left were women. A lot died along the way, a lot died when they got here.
—Is this correct – most of the people were women?
—Incorrect – Ten died along the way.

Settlers in the Aftermath

As people crowded into hastily assembled lodgings, diseases spread like wildfire.
—This passage is not complete. See Dr. Asa Daniels’ quote above.

Map of settler deaths by location.
—Excellent! This map also helps show how widespread the hostile Dakota attacks were. 

The Lake Shetek Captives and the Fool Soldiers

 No comment. 

Depredation Claims

 The Sisseton and Wahpeton bands of Dakota or Sioux Indians acknowledge their dependence on the Government of the United States, and do hereby pledge and bind themselves to preserve friendly relations with the citizens thereof, and to commit no injuries or depredations on their persons or property, nor on those of the members of any other tribe; but in case of any such injury or depredation, full compensation shall, as far as practicable, be made therefor out of their moneys in the hands of the United States, the amount in all cases to be determined by the Secretary of the Interior.
Article 6, Sioux Treaty of 1858
—Incorrect and Disrespectful – A small number of the Sisseton and Wahpeton men went to war. The majority of the Mdewakanton men went to war. This Article was common to both 1851 Treaties. Citing it from the Sisseton and Wahpeton Treaty implies they were primarily responsible for the war.

In the months following the war, a commission took on the overwhelming task of disbursing funds to settlers for their material losses. The same treaties that promised money to the Dakota in exchange for their lands also contained provisions for using these funds instead to compensate for war losses.
—Is this correct – did not Dakota farmers also receive compensation?
—Unbalanced – In the 1970s, Dakota descendants were paid for land and annuities taken in 1863.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s