Review – MHS – LSA Intro Video

Minnesota Historical Society (MHS)
Lower Sioux Agency Historic Site
Introduction Video
Posted August 23, 2015
Updated March 17, 2016

Items of Interest

In January 2014, I reviewed MHS’s Dakota War Website and posted the reviews to this blog. The website consisted of 7 parts; each with a video introduction. These 7 smaller videos have been merged into one video for use at the Lower Sioux Agency Historic Site as an introduction to the site.

This merged video was shown in New Ulm on August 17, 2015, by Dakota representatives from the Lower Sioux Agency Historic Site.

The comments below are from my original 2014 review of the videos.

The MHS Dakota War Website is located at http://usdakotawar.org/

General Comments

  • Incorrect – There are 53 incorrect statements in these videos
  • Unbalanced – There are 12 unbalanced statements in these videos
  • Disrespectful – This combined video does not represent all the people who were at the Lower Sioux Agency in 1862.
  • This video should not be shown at the Lower Sioux Agency Historic Site. A more accurate, balanced and respectful video is needed.

Most Objectionable Statements

Video – Introduction

We’re like trees. If we don’t know our roots, in terms of who we are, and how we are connected from the very beginning – to creation, and to God, and to the land. If you don’t have roots, the tree falls. And it dies.
—What does this mean? How does this connect to the Dakota War of 1862?

Mni Sota Makoce, the “land of cloud tinted waters” in the Dakota language is known today as Minnesota. It has been the homeland of the Dakota people for thousands of years.
—Incorrect – According to Riggs’ Dakota-English Dictionary, “Mni” also means “mini” which means water. Riggs defines minisota as “whitish water.” The water is whitish because of its content not its reflection.
—Incorrect – It is believed that the ancestors of the Dakota Indians migrated into present day Minnesota. It cannot be proven they have been here for thousands of years.

Settlers were very much a threat to the Dakota way of life. They were encroaching onto their livelihood.
—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.

By 1862, Dakota People faced many hardships and…when the U.S. Government broke its promises, some of the Dakota People went to war.”
—Incorrect – Broken promises were only one of many causes of the Dakota War.

When the U.S. who made a pact with us would not live up to its agreements, we had to then defend ourselves.
—Incorrect – We were not defending ourselves by attacking and killing more than 550 white civilians and 100 soldiers.

The fighting lasted six weeks and many people on both sides were killed. Descendants of those touched by the war continue to live with the trauma it caused.
—Unbalanced – More than 650 whites were killed and about 145 Dakota were killed.
—Unbalanced – Not all descendants are living with trauma.

They’re [U.S.] never going to give back the land. That’s never going to happen.
—Why should they give back the land? The Dakota took this land from other tribes and sold it to the U.S. Are the Ojibwe going to give back the land they took from the Dakota?

…our view of the past is formed by the things we choose to keep and the stories we choose to tell.
—This is exactly why MHS must do a better job of making these products accurate, balanced and respectful for all people involved.

We [Dakota] are a peaceful people.
—Incorrect – Attacking and killing more than 650 white civilians and soldiers are not the actions of a peaceful people.

Video – Dakota Homeland

Mni Sota Makoce – The land of cloud-tinted waters is the homeland of the Dakota people”
—Incorrect – According to Riggs’ Dakota-English Dictionary, “Mni” also means “mini” which means water. Riggs defines minisota as “whitish water.” The water is whitish because of its content not its reflection.

The Dakota relationship to that land is that she is our mother. Our descendants have been here thousands and thousands of years.
—Incorrect – Some Dakota call the earth grandmother. Which is correct?
—Incorrect – “descendants” probably should be “ancestors”.
—Incorrect – This depends upon the meaning of “here.”

The 7 campfires are the 7 stars in the constellation Orion.
—Incorrect – Campfires should be council fires.
—Incorrect – This belief is relatively recent. For more than 150 years, it was and still is believed that Mille lacs Lake was the Dakota place of origin.

[As the council fires are named, they appear on a map.]
—Incorrect – The council fires are not shown in the correct locations.
—For more information on the word Bdewakantunwan see “Definitions” on the top bar.

You cannot be a Dakota without Dakota culture and spirituality being together.
—Incorrect – Dakota people who have converted to Christianity are still Dakota people.

This country is still ours spiritually because it is God given. When God does something, he doesn’t take it back.
—Incorrect – God did not give this land to the Dakota. The Dakota killed members of other tribes and took their land.

The land has a memory. Some day someone will be reminded of what happened there and it probably won’t be good.
—What does this mean?

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.

Video – Treaties

Treaties…resulted in the Dakota people losing large portions of land.
—Incorrect – They did not lose their land. Dakota leaders chose to sell their land.

It was a bogus document that allowed the federal government to legally steal Indian land.
—Incorrect – Show proof for these opinions.

A series of treaties…led to their eventual removal from the land that became Minnesota…
—Incorrect – Not all of the Dakota were removed from Minnesota.
—Incorrect – Treaties did not cause their removal. Most of them were removed as a result of the Dakota War where hostile Dakota killed more than 650 white men, women and children.

The government never intended to pay us the full amount; they would pay us interest for 50 years.
—Incorrect – The terms of the 1851 treaties stated that the principal would be invested and interest at the rate of 5% would be paid to the Dakota for 50 years. The total interest paid would exceed the principal by 150%. There was no deception.

They actually never paid for it; never paid a cent for all the vast territory.
—Absolutely Incorrect

By 1862, the Dakota lost most of their land in Minnesota through treaties…
—Incorrect – They did not lose their land. Dakota leaders chose to sell their land.

The U.S. needs to honor those treaties and do what they need to do in order to do justice to all of the Native American tribes in the U.S.
—Incorrect – These Dakota treaties are not still valid.
—Incorrect – In the 1970s, the U.S. paid Dakota descendants for annuities and land taken in 1863.

The treaties are the consciousness of this continent.
—What does this mean?

Does it really matter if they signed those treaties or not? In Washington, they already had the idea that they were going to exterminate the natives to the west. So does it really even matter?
—Incorrect – Show proof for this opinion.

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?

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.

Video – “150 Years Later”

We have to take care of our own hearts. We have to not carry that heaviness. Because if we do, we won’t heal.
—Incorrect – Not all Dakota people are healing today.

We could never call home, home.
—What does this mean?

Education, language revitalization, activism and collaboration of Dakota People from around the nation and in Canada help to tell the true story of Minnesota’s past and the resilience of its first people.
—Incorrect – Throughout this website, many statements selected by MHS from the longer interviews are not correct.
—Incorrect – Prove that the Dakota were Minnesota’s first people.

When they were on the gallows, they told the people don’t cry for us, what we did, we did for you. That is why we are here today 150 years later.
—Incorrect – The majority of the Dakota men did not go to war. Many were threatened with death if they didn’t fight against the whites.
—Incorrect – Killing more than 650 white civilians and soldiers resulted in more harm than good to the Dakota people.
—Incorrect – Many Dakota and white descendants are not here today because the hostile Dakota did what they did.

…Pike Island – the origin of the Dakota people, that’s where we came from – the center of the universe.
—Incorrect – That this was the center of the universe is a relatively recent interpretation of what Gideon Pond wrote in 1851. See Pond, “Gatherings from the Traditional History of the Mdewakantonwan Dakotas”, Dakota Tawaxitku Kin, September 1851. “…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 this was a place of creation.
—Incorrect – That this is the place of Dakota origin is a relatively recent belief. 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 Mille lacs Lake area. Dakota have believed for more than 150 years this to be their place of origin.

Together, people work on creating education opportunities, historical awareness and healing for all who call Minnesota home.
—Incorrect – Not everyone is healing.

End-of-Video

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