July 3, 1863
“Dakota leader Taoyateduta, who fled to Canada after the battle of Wood Lake, is shot and killed by Nathan Lamson near Hutchinson, Minnesota. Taoyateduta’s son Wowinape later described his death: “He was shot the second time when he was firing his own gun. The ball struck the stock of his gun, and then hit him in the side near the shoulders. That was the shot that killed him. He told me that he was killed, and asked for water, which I gave him. He died immediately after that.” Lamson is awarded a $500 bounty by the state of Minnesota.” *
What a strange story! The man who shoots Little Çrow is willing to give him a drink of water. What a strange people we are! We pursue our enemies to the death, and then have honor when we know he is dying!?! We are broken people. Taoyateduta fulfilled Your words “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Matthew 26:52
Lord Jesus, You are the only faithful and true judge. Will You visit this event, remove its curse on the ancestries of Little Crow and Minnesota, and bless this broken relationship? Will You curb our actions to today: of patting on the head those we’ve economically killed or slain through the law?
** For more details on Taoyateduta (Little Crow) please read this excellent site. www.usdakotawar.org
July 1, 1863
“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.” **
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.
September 2, 1862
“Just before sunrise the sharp crack of a warning shot signaled the start of the Battle of Birch Coulee, one of the hardest fought battles of the U.S.-Dakota War. The Dakota kept U.S. soldiers under siege for 36 hours before a relief detachment arrived from Fort Ridgely.” *
A coulee is a term derived from the French word “couler” which means “to flow”.
In the Midwest, coulee often describes a three-sided valley formed by erosion. Perhaps both of these descriptions seem symbolic of spiritual and relational realities that the Holy Spirit wants to reveal through this event. Let’s think about this!
In the context of this battle, a three-sided valley acted as a place of entrapment where the blood flowed. Where can one escape in a three-sided valley with the enemy blocking the only hope for escape? Yet, geographically Midwestern coulees are often green places of growth, a shelter from the wind, and a location where the water flows outward in one direction.
What apt symbols of war and peace? Like in the Battle of Birch Coulee, when human beings practice a mindset of “us versus them” there is no escape; only kill or be killed. Yet, Jehovah Shalom (G-d our Peace), shows us a way out of our two-sided oppositional positions, and reveals a third perspective to us; one where His mercy triumphs over our judgment. When we can yield our pride to Him, maybe we can see the lovingkindness He has for our opponent, gain a new perspective, and flow peacefully together in one direction?
In Your mercy, Lord hear our prayer. Will You intervene in the long-term aftermath of this battle? We have sinned against You and the place of Birch Coulee. Will You forgive the bitter judgments of all participants? Will You make this site a holy site of peace? To the Minnesotan, American, and Dakotan of this event, and their generations, I speak this truth; “…A Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
To many of my contemporaries, even the concept of a Savior, or needing a Savior, is offensive. Yet, I wish to add a confession of behalf of myself, my peers, and especially the Church within this State. We live in a time where “self-determination” is esteemed as a political right, and sometimes as a worldview that shapes much of our decision-making. Will You forgive us this offense, and the places we have become imbalanced in terms of “self”?
We correctly see that we have a right to our “self”, but our trust is broken and incomplete . We don’t see another’s right to “self” because we trust solely in our human abilities. We do not seek, believe in, or rely on an “other” perspective greater than our “self”. So, we do battle, both parties attempting to preserve their precious “self”.
So, we do battle to preserve this precious “self” that You have given us.Yet there is another way! You are the rightful Advocate and Mediator of all our relationships because only You completely see the Infinite worth of every human, every life, all matter, all Spirit under the sun! You would bring Infinity and timeless perspective to our moments of potential conflict if we only inquired, listened, and received Your insights.
Will You show us the eternal “win-win”, “honor-honor”, and “mercy-mercy” of our negotiations? Will You teach us the ways of “other-determination”? Amen.
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3,4
August 22, 1862
“‘We went down determined to take the fort,” said Wamditanka (Big Eagle). “If we could take it we would soon have the whole Minnesota valley.” The Dakota soldiers fight hard on this fourth day of the war, but the U.S. soldiers give as good as they get. The Dakota retreat and strategize: should they wage a third battle or attack New Ulm for plunder?” *
What shall I pray for this second day of battle, Lord? We, as human beings, have a long history of wanting “to take the fort.” We are discontent, we are offended, and we crave revenge. This day in history is an offense to Your majestic living masterpieces, whether of the Dakota tribe, or of the people of the state of Minnesota or the United States. Will You have mercy on our slaying precious lives You have created?
We have destroyed Your handiwork in another sense when we committed to this battle. We have desecrated Your lands also known as the Minnesota Valley and Fort Ridgely. We, human beings, are all squatters and temporary stewards of Your earth, but we continually claim it for ourselves?! Forgive our offenses against Your property, Lord of Minnesota. We harvest Your land, take our food, take Your game without price. Yet we want tribute from those who dare offend our kingdoms. Will You speak life and peace to every square foot of land defiled by our rebellion against You, and expressed in separation and bloodshed against our neighbors?
Under the authority of Jesus and as a co-inheritor of His mercy, Wamditanka, I announce His forgiveness to You and Your men for your attack on Minnesota and the United States. Will You forgive me and my forbearers’ our bloodguilt, sins and failures, bitter words and curses against you and your nation? Will you wipe away the memory of bitter vows and judgments we have made over you, and you over us? Holy Spirit, come and walk between us. Show the Dakotan and the Minnesotan how to be brothers. Will You change the atmosphere of our relationship! May You give us an heart to keep blessing each other until You return!
*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!