19th Century, Culture, government, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, Native Americans, State Government

Bounties and Punitive Expeditions

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“The State reward for dead Indians has been increased to $200 for every red-skin sent to Purgatory.” The Daily Republic, Winona, MN, September 24, 1863

The state of Minnesota places bounties—ranging from $25 to $200—on the scalps of Dakota people. Nathan Lamson receives $500 from the state for killing Taoyateduta (Little Crow).

Governor Alexander Ramsey orders punitive expeditions into Dakota Territory to hunt down the Dakota people. Two forces totaling more than 7,000 soldiers are formed under generals John Pope and Alfred Sully. When the Dakota hear of approaching soldiers they flee their camps, leaving valuable supplies. Most of the fleeing Dakota are women and children. Many die from starvation and exposure over the winter.*

Jesus, I’m embarrassed and ashamed that my state had bounties on scalps, but I’m a product of the 20th century where we only take off the heads of our political opponents verbally or figuratively. It made me curious as to why and who began the practice in the first place. This is a brief snippet of what I found.
“Scalping–cutting off the scalp of a dead enemy as proof of his demise– was common practice throughout North America before colonists got here. It is described in Indian oral histories, and preserved scalps were found at archaeological sites. Colonists learned to scalp enemies from the Indians. (The European custom was to cut off people’s heads for proof/trophies, originally, but scalps are easier to transport and preserve, so the colonists quickly switched to the Indian method.) Once they picked up the technique, the English did a tremendous amount of scalping, both of natives and of rival Frenchmen.” http://www.native-languages.org/iaq12.htm

Will You forgive Alexander Ramsey, John Pope, Alfred Sully and their expedition into Dakota territory, (now North Dakota and South Dakota) to pursue the Dakota’s out of Minnesota? Release us from the bondage of this inheritance. Will You forgive the understandable bitterness that has entered the hearts of the Dakota people, as You forgive those among their tribes who taught Minnesotans this practice? Will You give them the grace to remove this hook of the enemy from their hearts? I want to live to see Your blessing of the Dakota people! May we honor You, instead, by keeping trophies of conflicts resolved peaceably, and build displays of unmerited favor shown among all families of nations that make up this place.

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out!

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9 thoughts on “Bounties and Punitive Expeditions

  1. Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy. This made me weep. I have stories of some of my ancestors being scalped by native Americans, but I didn’t know (settlers?) were ever paid to hunt and kill them??? So heinous.

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