“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.*
“Myrick worked at the Lower Sioux Agency to the southeast. 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.” He made this retort while involved in a confrontation between Dakota tribesmen, the United States government, and other traders. His comment is considered an inciting factor in the Sioux Uprising that began shortly thereafter.”
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!
“Lord Jesus, we enthrone You, we proclaim You our King. Standing here in the midst of us, we raise You up with our praise…” (Thanks for the song Mr. Paul Kyle!)
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out!