19th Century, History, Indian, Intercession, Minnesota, Native Americans, State Government, war

U.S.-Dakota War Battle at Wood Lake

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“For what reason we have commenced this war I will tell you it is on account of Major Galbraith. . . .” Taoyateduta (Little Crow), September 7, 1862

September 23, 1862

In early September, Col. Henry Sibley tries to negotiate a settlement with Taoyateduta (Little Crow). Sibley hopes to exploit major disagreements within the Dakota community about continuing the war. But Taoyateduta is not ready to quit. He explains why the Dakota started the war, and states that he is willing to release prisoners. Sibley demands surrender. Taoyateduta refuses.

The Dakota leaders reconvene and decide to ambush the U.S. troops. They hide in the prairie grass overnight, anticipating the Army troops’ morning moves. At 7:00 a.m. on the 23th, a group of U.S. soldiers approach an abandoned Dakota village, in search of food. “They came on over the prairie,” said Wamditanka (Big Eagle), “right where part of our line was. At last they came so close that our men had to rise up and fire. This brought the fight on, but not according to the way we had planned it. Taoyateduta saw it and felt very badly.” Some of the U.S. soldiers run back to camp to get help. A fierce fight ensues. The reinforcements fire a cannon non-stop, forcing the Dakota to retreat. In two hours the battle is over, and with it all hopes of Dakota victory.*

This event is a classic, “us versus them” conflict. It is clear that Sibley and Little Crow are the representational heads of the parties of this conflict. We cannot know the hearts of these men, but can see some of it in their actions.

Lord, we are like Sibley. We draw battle lines, and attempt to divide the camp of our enemy. We do battle and demand surrender of those whom we oppose. Will You forgive Sibley the errors of his judgments in this moment? Will You forgive His blood offense to You for the acts of injustice in this battle committed by U.S. troops?

Master, we are like Taoyateduta (Little Crow). We offer concessions to our enemy, yet cannot surrender. We make our stands in conflicts for both just and unjust motives. We reach the point of abandonment where we accept we either live victorious, or die fighting. Will You forgive Taoyateduta (Little Crow) this very understandable and human assessment? Will You forgive His blood offense to You for the acts of injustice in this battle committed by the Dakota?

Give us Your eyes of compassion for these men; they are but leaders trying to the best for their people. We are no different or better than them. The same potential to squelch our offender lives in us. The same potential to make a brave “last stand” is in our hearts today. Have mercy on our conflicts today. May we remember You, the Author of Mercy and Justice, before we demand surrender or fight to the death this day.

Will You take up these mutual offenses, though long past, up from this battlefield, out of the hearts and memories of all ancestors of the Battle of Wood Lake, and onto the Cross of Christ?

*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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19th Century, death, History, Indian, Intercession, Jesus, justice, Minnesota, Native Americans, State Government, U.S. Government, war

U.S.-Dakota War, Second Battle at Fort Ridgely

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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!

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19th Century, Civil War, cultural transference, History, Indian, Intercession, Minnesota, Native Americans, Politics, State Government, U.S. Government, war

U.S. – Dakota War Begins

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August 18, 1862

“See the white men are like locusts when they fly so thick that the whole sky is a snow storm. . . . Count your fingers all day long and white men will come faster than you can count.” Taoyateduta (Little Crow) By the summer of 1862, life on the Upper and Lower Sioux reservations is unpleasant and getting worse. Assimilation policies mandated by the U.S. government use the withholding of food and other supplies as a means of forcing the Dakota to conform to white ideals. “The whites were always trying to make the Indians give up their life and live like white men,” said Dakota leader Wamditanka (Big Eagle). “The Indians wanted to live as they did before. . . . If the Indians had tried to make the whites live like them, the whites would have resisted, and it was the same way with many Indians.” The appointment of Thomas J. Galbraith as Indian Agent at Upper and Lower Sioux exacerbates the situation. Galbraith, a political appointee who knows nothing about Indians, is considered arrogant, emotionally unstable, and rigid in his adherence to rules. By the summer of 1862 tensions on the reservation are unbearable. Annuity payments are late again, and the traders refuse to extend further credit. The Dakota “Soldiers’ Lodge” advocates the use of force to acquire food for the Dakota people. The situation falls apart in mid-August, when four young Dakota men kill five settlers near Acton. The Soldiers’ Lodge gains power and convinces a reluctant Taoyateduta (Little Crow) to lead the fight against the traders and settlers. Dakota warriors attack the Lower Sioux Agency in the early morning of August 18, killing traders and government employees. The Dakota then attack settlements along the Minnesota River valley, killing hundreds of white settlers in the first few days. A U.S. Army force sent up from Fort Ridgely is ambushed at Redwood Ferry; 24 soldiers are killed. The Dakota forces are primarily young men, mostly from the Mdewakanton band, led by Chiefs Sakpe (Shakopee), Medicine Bottle, Taoyateduta (Little Crow), Wamditanka (Big Eagle), and Mankato. Most Dakota, however, choose not to fight.” *

Unknown

When another group of Indians appeared at the Lower Sioux stores on August 15, Indian Agent Thomas Galbraith wouldn’t let them take any food since they didn’t have any money. Payments to the Indians had not been made, partly because of delays caused by the American Civil War. When the tribesmen appealed to Myrick to allow them to take food on credit, he said, “So far as I am concerned, if they are hungry let them eat grass or their own dung.” **
Eternal Father, first of all, let me confess the harsh words of Andrew Myrick as sin against You first, and secondly to the Sioux and Dakota nations. “So far as I am concerned, if they are so hungry let them eat grass or their own dung.” I can only imagine the parental protectiveness in Your heart; “You said what to my starving kids?!” We don’t often ponder the depths of emotional pain a foolish action causes You. As the author of all emotions, will You forgive this heartache caused in the name of our state and nation?
We are guilty of speaking harsh words against our brothers made in Your image! Forgive us this offense! Jesus, will You bring Your healing presence into this meeting on August 15, 1862? Will You replace the curses, spoken and unspoken, between Sioux, Dakota, Galbraith, Myrick, the State of Minnesota, the United States, the parties unknown, and heal the land with Your blessing?

As Your child, I want to extend forgiveness to the Mdewakanton and Dakota tribes, the chiefs Sakpe, Medicine Bottle, Taoyateduta, Wamditanka, and Mankato for responding to this horrible offense in violence and bloodshed. Will You replace this specific curse with a blessing on them, their generations, their dwellings and property? As Your child and a citizen of Minnesota, I want to ask forgiveness of You and the aforementioned parties for the deadly counter-response to this conflict committed in its name, and the name of the United States. Forgive the haste, and the unwillingness of our government to assess if we, indeed, had not kept our promise to pay annuity payments on schedule! Have mercy on us Jesus! Keep bringing us to full restoration with You and each other in response to this event!

Conversely, will You forgive the youthful responses of the warriors that pushed a violent solution to a practical problem? Granted, these tribes had just endured years of deprivation of their lands at the hands of our government and its’ associates. Those that had mistreated the tribes, in a better world, should have been morally and legally liable for ensuring the sustenance of the Mdewakanton Band.

This event shows the cycle of judgment and counter-judgment more clearly than most in the history of Minnesota. For example?
Myrick harshly judges the young Mdewankanton, and cannot see his atrocity of withholding food and provisions to the displaced peoples in front of his eyes. He also commits the sin of “just following orders” instead of using his common sense, and shows no interest in truly assessing the pain of the Mdewankanton who were legally swindled out of their homeland by the US. Government and its’ agents. In effect, their people were transferred from a state of independence to dependence on government for their provisions.
Young Mdewankanton warriors harshly judge their non-Native neighbors and transfer their righteous anger on the wrong recipients. They make the same mistake as Myrick; they cannot recognize the innocent, and viciously attack neighbors who did not agrees towards them.

Lord, will You forgive this transference of shame and rage at the hands of the young Mdewankanton towards those neighbors who did not oppose them? Will You forgive both parties their: inability or lack of communication, their lack of curiosity to know their neighbors, and profound lack of empathy? Will You bring healing to this bitter root grown in this era, free us to hear the needs of our neighbors in the present, and live in Your blessing and abundance in the future?

“Lord Jesus, we enthrone You, we proclaim You our King. Standing here in the midst of us, we raise You up with our praise…” ***

*http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
** Folwell, William Watts. “A history of Minnesota.” St. Paul, Minnesota: St. Paul, Minnesota Historical Society. P 233. Internet. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Myrick
*** For the rest of the lyrics of this beautiful song by Paul Kyle, follow the link. http://higherpraise.com/lyrics/love/love853214.htm

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