Review – Composite III Essays

Composite III Essays
Reviewed November 10, 2014

 Items of Interest

A total of 8 essays are included in this review. These include newspaper and magazine articles.

 The Incorrect, Unbalanced and Disrespectful statements have been merged, resorted and duplicates removed.

General Comments


 Most Objectionable Statements

The Dakota believed the Earth was for all living things to share. The whites believed it could be owned.
—Incorrect – Dakota villages and hunting parties claimed and defended their territories.

Mni Sota Makoce, the Dakota words for this place, the land where the waters reflect the clouds.
—Incorrect – The Dakota name for the Minnesota River was based on content of the water not its reflection.

[In 1805] Pike got 100,000 acres worth $200,000 for $200 in trade goods and no money, and then he gave them some liquor…Pike left the payment amount blank because he had no authority to spend government money; three years later, the government paid $2,000 – to traders who said the Dakota owed them. By the time it got squared away, the Dakota got 60 gallons of liquor…It was the first of many treaties – treaties made, treaties broken; treaties made, treaties broken.
—Incorrect – $200,000 was Pike’s estimate. This land was worth only as much as someone would pay for it.
—Incorrect – At the time of the signing, the Dakota were given $200 in goods by Pike and 60 gallons in liquor by Pike and the fur traders.
—Incorrect – In 1819, the Dakota were paid $2,000 in trade goods. The traders were not paid any of this.
—Incorrect – Prove that the U.S. broke the Treaty of 1805.
—Unbalanced – Now discuss how the Dakota got this land. They took it by killing members of other tribes.

When Col. Henry Leavenworth and the 5th Infantry finally showed up in 1819 to build the fort, the local Dakota had no idea they had sold their homeland to the man who had breezed through 14 years earlier.
—Incorrect – The Dakota were paid in 1819 under the terms of the 1805 Treaty.

Admiring as sightseers will be, traversing the lush valley, they must acknowledge a harsh truth: Every farm, every town, every highway was built at the expense of the Dakota.
—Incorrect – This land was purchased from the Dakota Indians.

In 1862, emigrants from foreign countries were streaming into Minnesota to claim free land under the Homestead Act. The natives, however, were confined by treaty to a 10-mile-wide strip south of the Minnesota River. Crops had failed the previous year, and by June, they were starving, but they put off their annual buffalo hunt in the West to wait for the annual payment promised under the treaties.
—Incorrect – The Homestead Act was signed by Lincoln on May 20, 1862. This was not completely free land.
—Incorrect – While they agreed to stay on their reservations, the Dakota continuously went off their reservations for various reasons.
—Incorrect – This “strip” of land was also 139 miles long.
—Incorrect – Not all their crops failed in 1861.
—Incorrect – Not all Dakota were starving.
—Incorrect – Upper Dakota came in from their hunts, waited, were given food and returned to their hunts. Most of the Lower Dakota generally hunted deer instead of buffalo.

…Joseph R. Brown…left his lucrative post as Lower Sioux Indian agent…
—Incorrect – This was hardly a lucrative post.
—Incorrect – He was Indian Agent for both the Upper and Lower Sioux.

It was hard for the Dakota to get ahead. They had to navigate a foreign, often hostile culture and the federal payments and incentives meant for them ended up financing frontier development and enriching traders. One of those traders was Joseph Renshaw Brown…
—Incorrect – Farmer Indians and others were getting ahead.
—What does this mean? – “They had to navigate a foreign, often hostile culture”
—What does this mean? – “…the federal payments and incentives meant for them ended up financing frontier development and enriching traders.”
—Disrespectful – Is the author saying that the traders and Joseph R. Brown were dishonest? Prove this.

…Traverse des Sioux…became the spot where the Sioux, or Dakota, were forced to give up 24 million acres in southern Minnesota in the first of two 1851 treaties.
—Incorrect – They gave up their land because they were starving.
—Incorrect – This land was never surveyed. We don’t know how much land was sold to the U.S.
—Incorrect – The Dakota sold their rights to this land in the 1851 Treaties of Traverse des Sioux and Mendota. Both treaties pertained to the same cession. This cession included land in present day Iowa and South Dakota.

It was no secret that traders claimed nearly all of the Dakota’s annual treaty payments, much of it fraudulently.
—Incorrect and Disrespectful – Prove that this is correct.

Preferential treatment of farmer Indians and mixed-bloods over the families of traditional hunters had divided the tightly knit community.
—Incorrect – Prove that mixed-bloods who were not farmers were getting preferential treatment. Dakota could choose to become farmers. 

A revolving cast of political appointees managed the Dakota with callous indifference
—Incorrect and Disrespectful – No one should be criticized without showing proof.

Rapidly losing respect for whites, tired of being treated like children and disgusted by the disintegration of their culture, a few young Dakota hunters pulled the whole nation into war.
—Incorrect – It cannot be proven why these Dakota killed 5 settlers at Acton.

Jacob Nix… placed the blame for the entire U.S.-Dakota War at the feet of Alexander Ramsey.
—Incorrect and Disrespectful – Prove that Nix said this or wrote this.

…in the summer of 1862, when their annual payment was delayed, a new agent refused to release provisions to the hungry Dakota until the cash arrived.
—Incorrect – Galbraith did issue food to the Upper Dakota. He did not issue food to the Lower Dakota.

The gold, two months late, had nearly reached Fort Ridgely when four young men, on a dare over the theft of eggs, shot and killed five settlers.
—Incorrect – The gold arrived about 7 weeks late.
—Incorrect – We do not know for sure why these young men killed 5 settlers.

Despite the prophecies of their eloquent leader, Little Crow…the Dakota, already in trouble, decided to try to drive out the settlers.
—Incorrect – Only the 4 young men who killed 5 settlers in Acton Township were in trouble.

The Dakota attacked first here [Lower Sioux Agency], where traders had cut off credit; the body of Andrew Myrick, who had remarked, “If they are hungry, let them eat grass,” was found with the mouth stuffed with grass.
—Incorrect and Disrespectful – Not all traders cut off credit. More needs to be said why some traders cut off credit and why Myrick told them to eat grass.

In the next six weeks, they killed at least 360 settlers and traders…No one knows how many Dakota were killed fighting U.S. soldiers, about 90 of whom died.
—Incorrect – They killed more than 550 settlers and traders.
—Incorrect – At least 150 Dakota were killed.

In a short-lived but grisly spurt of violence, they killed as many as 500 civilians, many of them women and children, yet spared whites who had been friendly.
—Incorrect – They killed more than 550 civilians.
—Incorrect – Not all friendly whites were spared.

After the war started, Dakota warriors, whose food and annuity payments Brown had diverted to those who agreed to farm, were quick to burn [Brown’s house].
—Incorrect and Disrespectful – Brown did not divert food and annuity payments to the farmers.

Following the U.S.-Dakota War…Henry Hastings Sibley…was placed in command of Major General John Pope’s Department of the Northwest…
—Incorrect – Pope was in command of the Department of the Northwest.

Because of the rapid speed in which the trials were conducted, Bishop Henry Whipple urged President Lincoln to review the commission’s proceedings.
—Incorrect – In his book Lights and Shadows of a Long Episcopate, Whipple does not mention that he spoke to Lincoln about this.

…on average the trials lasted only 3 to 5 minutes and there was no defense allowed…the trials were a sham…
—Incorrect – Some trials lasted much longer. See Northern Slave, Black Dakota by Walt Bachman for the best discussion of the trials.
—Incorrect – The Indians on trial could speak in their own defense. A defense lawyer was not required in this format.
—Unbalanced – What about the Dakota trial system? There wasn’t one.

…the customs and history of Indian warfare were clearly different. In intertribal Indian wars almost all members of the enemy nation — including women and children — were legitimate targets of attack and captives were rarely taken. From the Dakota viewpoint — based on their history as a sovereign nation — the killing of noncombatants was within accepted rules of warfare.
—Unbalanced – What if the U.S. conducted warfare in the same manner as the Dakota? Almost all Dakota men, women and children would have been killed.

Gen. Sibley wanted to execute the accused Dakota warriors after holding trials that were as short as a few minutes. We don’t stand for this or any ethnic cleansing anymore…There are still people suffering from wounds that still haven’t healed in some ways. There is still lots of suffering on reservations with many suicides and drug and alcohol abuse issues.
—What does this mean? Is the author saying that the trials were a form of ethnic cleansing? What would the author call the mass-murder of more than 550 white civilians?
—What does this mean? – Is the author saying there are people still suffering, committing suicide and abusing drugs and alcohol because of these trials?

They [Farmer Indians] were among the many Dakota who helped settlers escape during the 1862 war, but they too were banished.
—Incorrect – Not all of the Farmer Indians were banished.

The 1,658 dependents of the prisoners [at Mankato] were marched to Fort Snelling…and placed in an internment camp. They were later transferred to a reservation at Crow Creek on the Missouri River…
—Incorrect – These were not all dependents of the prisoners at Mankato.
—Incorrect – Not all of the Dakota at Fort Snelling were transferred to Crow Creek.
—Unbalanced – What happened to the whites after the war?

The forced march is the story of…innocent Indian civilians – non-combatants in the six-week war that raged up and down the Minnesota River Valley
—Incorrect – This was not a forced march.
—Incorrect – The Minnesota River Valley was not the only location of this war.
—Unbalanced – What happened to the innocent white civilians who survived the war?

The Dakota prison camp at Fort Snelling during the winter of 1862-63…as many as 300 died. The survivors were forcibly removed from their homeland in the spring of 1863…
And there is no question about the many deaths that occurred in the prison camp at Fort Snelling – sources say 150 to 300 died…
That winter, 1,658 Dakota, many of them women and children, were imprisoned at Fort Snelling, where at least 130 died. The survivors were shipped to barren lands in South Dakota….
—Incorrect – This was not a prison camp.
—Incorrect – The official report stated that about 102 died there.
—Incorrect – Not all were removed from Minnesota.

…on Dec. 26, 1862, 38 Dakota men were hung in the largest mass execution in U.S. history. It was the final act in the US-Dakota War, which had raged across this area in August of 1862, but just the beginning of the U.S. war against the Native Americans that ended with the Wounded Knee massacre.
—Incorrect – These were not all Dakota. There was at least one white and several Dakota/White mixed-bloods included in the 38.
—Incorrect – This was the largest mass simultaneous execution in U.S. history.
—Incorrect – This was not the final act in the Dakota War.
—Incorrect – This was not the beginning of the war against the Indians. There had been other Indian wars prior to this.

It was on the third tap from a lone drummer that gave William Duley…the cue to pull the lever. When he did, the scaffold’s trap doors opened simultaneously. The largest mass execution in United States history had now occurred.
—Incorrect – Duley cut the rope holding the platform.
—Incorrect – The entire platform dropped
—Incorrect – This was the largest simultaneous mass execution in U. S. history.

The executioners made one mistake, however. An Indian by the name of Chaska…was hanged instead of Chaskadon…Over the years, efforts have been made to seek a presidential pardon for Chaska, but no pardon has been issued as of yet.
—Incorrect – Two men were hanged by mistake.
—Incorrect – Pardon is the wrong word. It should be apology.

Some Mankato residents have set up a petition on the White House website calling for a posthumous pardon of the 38 Dakota executed in Mankato more than 150 years ago…some Dakota viewing it as an admission native Americans were criminals.
—Incorrect – These were not all Dakota. There was at least one white and several Dakota/White mixed-bloods included in the 38.
—Incorrect – These 38 men were implicated in the murders of at least 99 civilians – men, women and children. Two were committed of raping women. These were crimes against humanity.

In terms of a presidential pardon — that’s a forgiveness of a crime. Those men were protecting our grandmothers, they were protecting our homeland. So for many of us that is not a crime…
—Incorrect – How did the murdering of more than 550 white civilians help protect our grandmothers?
—Incorrect – The majority of the Dakota Indians opposed war with the whites. The friendly Indians rescued the hostages held by the hostile Indians and brought an early end to this war.

…it isn’t the Dakota people who need to be pardoned…Rather than well-intentioned gestures that effectively admit guilt on the part of the Dakota…a deeper understanding of history would be more beneficial.
—Unbalanced – All persons, Dakota and White, need a deeper understanding of this history.

…following a short but bloody war…the state paid bounties for Dakota scalps.
—Unbalanced – During the Dakota War, Dakota also offered bounties for white scalps.

When you understand it fully, both sides weren’t equally wrong, and one side, the Dakota people, suffered a greater injustice.
—Incorrect – More than 650 white civilians and soldiers were killed during the Dakota War. Many whites died afterwards. Prove that the Dakota suffered a greater injustice.

“Every Sioux found on our soil should get a permanent homestead, 6 feet by 2,” said The St. Cloud Democrat…“Shoot the hyenas…exterminate the wild beasts…”
—Disrespectful – Dakota Indians had just killed more than 650 whites, most of them women, children and elderly.

326 Santee Sioux held at Mankato were transferred to Davenport, Iowa and confined for three years…
—Incorrect – Not all were confined for 3 years.

Lamson fired two shots and killed Little Crow. Wowinape escaped and found his mother’s family in a reservation in the Dakota Territory.
—Incorrect – Nathan Lamson and his son each fired one shot at Little Crow
—Incorrect – Wowinape was captured before finding his mother’s family.
—Incorrect – Her family was not on a reservation.

The [horseback] ride is about remembering, but also about healing and reconciliation…This ride is a long prayer, to unite our nations…The ride is not to make accusations or seek justice…but about remembering, recognizing the past, honoring those who died and who survived, and moving on. The past is in the past, but it is embedded in us…We cannot forget, but we can forgive. The ride is also a chance to connect the younger generations with their history, and their customs.
—These are excellent comments on the annual commemorative horseback ride from Brule, South Dakota to Mankato.

…a line of Dakota Indians, following in the footsteps of their exiled ancestors, rounded a highway curve in Mendota and marched towards Fort Snelling
—Incorrect – This commemorative march in 2012 came in on the south side of the Minnesota River and crossed the Mendota Bridge to Fort Snelling. The original march in 1862 stayed on the north side of the river from Fort Ridgely to Fort Snelling.

The marchers…were finishing…a 150-mile-long tribute to 1,700 Dakota captives – most of them women and children, along with some elderly men
—Incorrect – The original march in 1862 was about 100 miles long.
—Incorrect – There were also elderly women and younger men in this group.

In 1987…Gov. Rudy Perpich had declared to be a “Year of Reconciliation” between the Dakota and the white majority. It was an optimistic idea. A quarter century later, the work of reconciliation remains undone.
—What does this mean? Reconciliation is not possible because it means different things to different people. Whenever reconciliation is proposed, it needs to be defined.

Until 1978, it was illegal to talk about our way of life…We couldn’t even sing legally or use sweat lodges or do a sun dance.
—Incorrect – It was not illegal to talk about our way of life. Name one person who was arrested for doing this. There was a law that prohibited Native religious ceremonies but later, it was not enforced.

The interpretive center [Lower Sioux Agency] on the former trading post, the first to be attacked in August 1862, is the best spot to learn about the conflict and Dakota culture…
—Incorrect – Although there were trading posts at the Lower Sioux Agency, it was a U.S. Government Agency not a trading post.
—Incorrect – It is one of many good spots to learn about the conflict and Dakota culture.
—Unbalanced – It is also a good spot to learn about a U.S. Government Agency.

…America screwed the Indians, they had a war and America won.
—Incorrect and Disrespectful – The majority of the Dakota Indians did not want war. They were screwed by those Dakota who went to war.
—Incorrect – Nobody won the war.

…every branch of my family…settled on what once was Dakota land. I owe it to the Dakota to learn.
—Unbalanced – And this land once belonged to other Indian tribes before the Dakota arrived.

Today, captivating Minnesota Historical Society exhibits follow the Dakota’s story from the fur trade to the War of 1862 and beyond, to their forced acculturation at the hands of bureaucrats.
—Incorrect – The Dakota were not forced to acculturate in Minnesota. They chose to become Christians and farmers. Others chose not to.

What if you and I had our families put on a farm, and they didn’t have sufficient food and the game was gone, and you got so frustrated that the U.S. government didn’t hold up one single treaty promise made to the Dakota people? We wouldn’t stand for it, not when we see our people’s way of life dying.”
—Incorrect – Only Dakota who chose to farm were put on farms.
—Incorrect – Prove that any Dakota on farms were starving.
—Incorrect – Prove that the U.S. broke every single treaty promise.
—Incorrect and Disrespectful – The majority of the Dakota Indians did not want war. The war was started by 100-150 young men of a Lower Sioux Soldiers’ Lodge. Others joined them and others were forced to join them.
—Incorrect – The causes of the Dakota War were more complicated than this.

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