Review – SP PP Historic FS

Historic Fort Snelling
June 24, 2016, St. Paul Pioneer Press insert
Published by Northwest Publications
Writers: Nick Woltman and Andy Rathbun
Reviewed on July 7, 2016

Items of Interest

This 48-page publication was inserted into the June 24, 2016 St. Paul Pioneer Press. However, it appears that only residential subscribers received a copy. As of this date, it has not been made available to the general public.

Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) has requested $34,000,000 from the State Legislature for renovations to Historic Fort Snelling. I believe this publication was produced in order to help justify this request for funding.

This publication contains many good photographs and area maps.

Some of my Dakota ancestors were taken to the Fort Snelling Internment Camp in 1862. They were not forced-marched. They were taken here to survive.

Text from this publication will not be provided in this review. All comments below are my comments related to statements in the publication. Some points in this publication are repeated several times. My comments on these points are also repeated. I focus mainly on the material related to the Dakota Indians and the 1862 Dakota War.

General Comments

  • This publication contains many incorrect and unbalanced statements. I believe it portends the future MHS interpretation at Historic Fort Snelling.
  • Incorrect – The U.S. was responsible for the Dakota Indians. The U.S. made the decisions to try them, move them to camps at Mankato and Fort Snelling and to remove most of them from the state. The State of Minnesota did not make these decisions and should not be held accountable.
  • Unbalanced – The Christian and Farmer Dakota prior to the 1862 Dakota War are not mentioned.
  • Unbalanced – The Friendly Indians who opposed the Dakota War, allied with the U.S. Army, rescued the hostages held by the hostile Dakota and brought an early end to the war are not mentioned.
  • Unbalanced – No mention is made of the Dakota Indians in the Fort Snelling Internment Camp who were taken to Faribault.
  • Unbalanced – No mention is made of the Dakota who left the Fort Snelling Internment Camp to become scouts for the U.S. Army.

Most Objectionable Statements

Cover

  • Incorrect – When construction started on Fort Snelling in 1819-20, the fort site was well into the frontier many miles from the nearest settlements at Green Bay and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.

Page 3

  • Incorrect – As stated above, the State of Minnesota was not responsible for the Fort Snelling Dakota Internment Camp.

Page 7

  • Incorrect – It is implied that the Dakota People have been in the Fort Snelling area for thousands of years. This cannot be proven.
  • Incorrect – Origination of the Dakota at the mouth of the Minnesota River is a relatively recent belief. The long-held belief is that they originated in the area of Lake Mille Lacs. See Pond, “Gatherings from the Traditional History of the Mdewakantonwan Dakotas”, Dakota Tawaxitku Kin, September 1851: “The Mdewakantonwan tradition…asserts that they sprang into existence about the lakes at the head of Rum river.” If the Mendota area was sacred to the Dakota Indians, they would not have sold this area to the U.S. in the Treaty of 1805. And they would not have permitted construction of Fort Snelling. They outnumbered the U.S. soldiers and could have easily driven them off.
  • Incorrect – It must be confirmed with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Community whether Bdote or Mdote is the correct Dakota name for the area about the mouth of the Minnesota. See my essay, “Bdewakanton, Bdote, and Mnisota” at: https://dakotawar1862.wordpress.com/2016/05/21/bdewakanton-bdote-and-mnisota/
  • Unbalanced – If the U.S. committed genocide against the Dakota Indians, the hostile Dakota Indians also committed genocide against the white settlers. See my essay, “Genocide and Concentration Camps” at: https://dakotawar1862.wordpress.com/2016/01/14/genocide/

Page 14

  • Incorrect – It cannot be proven that the Dakota People were in the Fort Snelling area for thousands of years.
  • Incorrect – It cannot be stated what all Dakota believe to be sacred.
  • Incorrect – See my comments on Dakota origination on page 7 above.
  • Incorrect – See my comments on Bdote on page 7 above.
  • Information is provided on this page about the Fort Snelling area, but no source is given for this information.
  • Emerson should be asked how long the Dakota have been in the Fort Snelling area.

Page 17

  • Incorrect – When construction started on Fort Snelling in 1819-20, the fort site was well into the frontier many miles from the nearest settlements at Green Bay and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.

Page 18

  • Incorrect – When construction started on Fort Snelling in 1819-20, the fort site was well into the frontier many miles from the nearest settlements at Green Bay and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.
  • Soldiers at Fort Snelling also tried to prevent intertribal warfare. I believe that if not for Fort Snelling, the Ojibwe would have driven the Dakota further south and west.

Page 26

  • The Dakota War of 1862 was tragic for all sides.

Page 29

  • Is this correct? – I do not believe that the exact location of the bottom Dakota Internment Camp at Fort Snelling is known.
  • To be more precise, more than 650 whites were killed and about 145 Dakota soldiers were killed in the Dakota War of 1862.
  • Unbalanced – Graphic details are given about how the whites attacked the defenseless Dakota at Henderson. Where are the graphic details on how the hostile Dakota attacked the defenseless whites on the frontier? Where are the graphic details on how the U.S. soldiers risked their lives to protect the Dakota from the angry whites?
  • Unbalanced – Graphic details are given on the murder of a Dakota baby by angry whites. Where are the graphic details of the murders of many white babies by hostile Dakota during the war?
  • Unbalanced – The Dakota passing through Henderson were innocent. The hundreds of settlers who were killed by hostile Dakota were also innocent.
  • Incorrect – The condemned Dakota men taken to Mankato were treated as prisoners. The innocent Dakota taken to Fort Snelling were not. Many rode. Due to the oxen, top speed was about 2 miles per hour. They averaged about 15 miles per day.
  • Incorrect – According to U.S. Army records, 102 Dakota died in the Fort Snelling Internment Camp. Any other number is purely a guess. See my essay, “Genocide and Concentration Camps” at: https://dakotawar1862.wordpress.com/2016/01/14/genocide/
  • Incorrect – Not all of the surviving Dakota at Fort Snelling were removed from the state. Some were taken to Faribault. Some men remained (with their families) to serve as scouts for the U.S. Army. See Monjeau-Marz, The Dakota Internment at Fort Snelling, 1862-1864.
  • Incorrect – It was not certain what would become of those taken to Fort Snelling until later.
  • Incorrect – As stated above, it was the U.S. Government’s decision to take them to Fort Snelling and later remove most of them from the State. The State of Minnesota was not responsible for these decisions.
  • Incorrect – The Dakota taken to Fort Snelling traveled about 110 miles from Lower Sioux Agency to Fort Snelling. As stated above, many rode. Top speed of the oxen was about 2 miles per hour. They averaged about 15 miles per day.
  • Incorrect – Not all Dakota descendants are still healing over what happened at Fort Snelling. I am not healing because I believe my Dakota ancestors were saved by being brought here.

Page 30

  • Incorrect – The combined reservations created by the 1851 Treaties between the U.S. and the Dakota were 20 miles wide and 139 miles long. See my essay, “Reservations – Land” at: https://dakotawar1862.wordpress.com/2014/07/11/reservations-land/
  • Incorrect – The 1851Treaties provided much more than annual payments of gold. One huge benefit was assistance in getting started on farms.
  • Incorrect – The Dakota continued to leave their reservations to hunt and gather in various places. They were not confined to these reservations. See my essay, “Reservations – Confinement? at: https://dakotawar1862.wordpress.com/category/essays/50-reservations/
  • Incorrect – Crop failures in 1861 and a hard winter left many with little to eat in the spring of 1862. Indian Agent Galbraith issued some food at the Agencies over the 1861-62 winter. In the summer of 1862, Galbraith issued food to the Upper Dakota but then refused to issue food to the Lower Dakota. See Diedrich, Little Crow and the Dakota War, pages 158, 191-192.
  • Incorrect – We do not know for sure why Dakota men killed five settlers in Acton Township, Meeker County on August 17, 1862. If eggs were involved, we do not know where these eggs were. See my essay, “Dakota War Causes – Acton” at: https://dakotawar1862.wordpress.com/category/essays/60-causes/
  • Incorrect – It is not known how many settlers were armed when killed by hostile Dakota during the Dakota War of 1862.
  • Incorrect – About 145 Dakota warriors were killed during the Dakota War. Lt. Thomas Gere reported that no less than 100 Dakota were killed in the 2 battles of Fort Ridgely.
  • Incorrect – According to missionary Dr. Thomas Williamson, the Dakota had 1500 men and boys capable of bearing arms. The highest estimated number of Dakota warriors involved in any attack was 800 in the 2nd attack on Fort Ridgely. We do not know how many of these men were forced to fight under death threats to them and their families.
  • Incorrect – According to the 1861 U.S. Dakota Annuity Census, there were 1,536 men, 1,935 women and 2,867 children for a total of 6,338 Dakota people.
  • Incorrect – According to Samuel Brown, “…Little Crow and some two or three hundred of his followers hurriedly fled…” See Anderson and Woolworth, Through Dakota Eyes…, page 223.
  • Incorrect – The friendly Dakota in the Dakota camp that remained at Camp Release waited for Col. Sibley to arrive. They did not surrender.
  • Incorrect – Sibley appointed a military commission to parse the guilty Dakota from the innocent Dakota. Dakota men were found guilty of murder, rape, participation in battles, etc.
  • Unbalanced – The hostile Dakota did not hold trials. Had Sibley practiced traditional Dakota warfare, he would have killed all of the Dakota at Camp Release.

Page 31

  • For the best source on the Dakota trials, see Bachman, Northern Slave – Black Dakota
  • Incorrect – The friendly Dakota in the Dakota camp that remained at Camp Release waited for Col. Sibley to arrive. They did not surrender.
  • The reservations had been shut down by the hostile Dakota. They destroyed buildings and mills. Both the Dakota and Sibley’s army harvested the ripened crops. There was no food left. Angry white settlers were moving back. The Civil War was in process and demanding men, horses and supplies. How many more Dakota would have died if they had been left at Camp Release? Moving them to Fort Snelling was a humanitarian effort.
  • Incorrect – Governor Ramsey advocated retribution.
  • Unbalanced – According to Chief Big Eagle, at the start of the Dakota War, “Wacouta, myself and others still talked for peace, but nobody would listen to us, and soon the cry was “Kill the whites and kill all these cut-hairs who will not join us.”” See Anderson and Woolworth, Through Dakota Eyes…, page 36. Given the numbers of whites killed, wasn’t this actually genocide?
  • Incorrect – It is not certain which day, the Dakota departed from the Lower Sioux Agency to Fort Snelling.
  • Incorrect – It is not certain when the Dakota Indians were counted at the Lower Sioux Agency. Some may have been removed from this camp to go to Mankato after they were counted. Some may have slipped away on their way to Fort Snelling.
  • Incorrect – Three military companies (approximately 200 soldiers) escorted them to Fort Snelling. See Bakeman and Woolworth, “Family Caravan” in Bakeman and Richardson, Trails of Tears…, page 56.
  • Incorrect – The Dakota taken to Fort Snelling were attacked only once, at Henderson.
  • Incorrect – There were 2 deaths reported on the march to Fort Snelling. It cannot be proven that any more than 2 Dakota died or were killed on this march.
  • Incorrect – According to U.S. Army records, 102 Dakota died in the Fort Snelling Internment Camp. Any other number is purely a guess. See my essay, “Genocide and Concentration Camps” at: https://dakotawar1862.wordpress.com/2016/01/14/genocide/

Page 32

  • The value of the annuities and land taken from the Dakota in 1863 would be paid to their descendants in the 1900s. See my essay, Treaties – Stolen Land? at https://dakotawar1862.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/treaties-stolen-land/
  • Incorrect – Not all of the surviving Dakota at Fort Snelling were removed from the state. Some were taken to Faribault. Some men remained (with their families) to serve as scouts for the U.S. Army. See Monjeau-Marz, The Dakota Internment at Fort Snelling, 1862-1864.
  • Incorrect – Ten Dakota women and children died on the steamboats en route to Crow Creek. See Bachman, Northern Slave – Black Dakota, page 301.
  • Incorrect – Bounties were not being offered when Chief Little Crow was killed near Hutchinson. The State, however, did pay a bounty for his death.

Page 33

  • I believe that the stakes planted by the Dakota Commemorative marchers also contained names of men who were in the Internment Camp.
  • Incorrect – All Dakota do not feel the same way about the Fort Snelling Internment Camp.
  • Incorrect – Some call the Fort Snelling Internment Camp a concentration camp to evoke images of the Nazi death and work camps. Fort Snelling was neither a death camp nor a work camp. If the Fort Snelling camp was a concentration camp, then the camps that held captive white and mixed-bloods also were concentration camps.
  • Unbalanced – If the U.S. committed genocide against the Dakota Indians, the hostile Dakota Indians also committed genocide against the white settlers. See my essay, “Genocide and Concentration Camps” at: https://dakotawar1862.wordpress.com/2016/01/14/genocide/
  • Incorrect – Many Dakota rode in the group taken to Fort Snelling. Due to the oxen, top speed was about 2 miles per hour. They averaged about 15 miles per day. This was not a forced march.
  • Incorrect – Some call the Fort Snelling Internment Camp a concentration camp to evoke images of the Nazi death and work camps. Fort Snelling was neither a death camp nor a work camp. If the Fort Snelling camp was a concentration camp, then the camps that held captive white and mixed-bloods also were concentration camps.
  • I believe that the stakes planted by the Dakota Commemorative marchers also contained names of men who were in the Internment Camp.
  • Incorrect – Some call the Fort Snelling Internment Camp a concentration camp to evoke images of the Nazi death and work camps. Fort Snelling was neither a death camp nor a work camp. If the Fort Snelling camp was a concentration camp, then the camps that held captive white and mixed-bloods also were concentration camps.

Pages 40-42

  • Incorrect – The Japanese camps during World War II are called by 3 different names in this text. Which name is correct?

 

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