19th Century, death, Geology, History, Indian, Intercession, Minnesota, Native Americans, State Government, Treaties, U.S. Government, war

U.S. – Dakota War Battle of Birch Coulee Sep 2, 1862

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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

*http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

 

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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, History, Indian, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, Native Americans, State Government, war

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

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August 20, 1862
“About 400 Dakota soldiers attack Fort Ridgely. “We did not fight like white men, with one officer,” recalled Hackinwakanda (Lightning Blanket). “We all shot as we pleased. We shot at the windows, mostly at the big stone building, as we thought many of the whites were in there. . . .” After running out of powder and bullets, the Dakota withdraw and regroup.” *

Jesus, I wish to draw Your attention to the Battle of Fort Ridgely. Will You forgive Hackinwakanda and his men their aggression towards the laws of Minnesota and the U. S. government? Will You forgive the counter judgements’ of Minnesotans’,  and the U.S. government of these exact Dakota soldiers? Will You announce freedom to all parties in the spirit from the bloodguilt of this day?

Where Your spirit is, there is liberty. I want to replace this curse of judgment with blessing of all ancestors of Fort Ridgely on either side of the battle! Renew their trust, their dwellings, and their property forever! Lord have mercy on our battles, and all our known and unknown enemies! Will You give us lenience, then love,  for those outside our fortresses of race, class, gender, politics, religion, and culture?

*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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