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.” *

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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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19th Century, cultural transference, Faith, History, Indian, Minnesota, Native Americans, Treaties

Treaty of Traverse des Sioux

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July 23, 1851
“Suppose your Great Father wanted your lands and did not want a treaty for your good, he could come with 100,000 men and drive you off to the Rocky Mountains.” *

Luke Lea, U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs, at treaty signing

Facing mounting debts to fur traders and the pressure of settlers pouring into the newly established Minnesota Territory, the Dakota leaders reluctantly sign treaties, hoping that government promises of reservations and annuities will provide a secure future for their people. Powerful and influential fur traders coerce the Dakota into giving up their land in exchange for promises of cash, goods, annuities, and education. “The Indians are prepared to make a treaty when we tell them to do so,” said Henry Sibley. “No treaty can be made without our claims being first secured.”

Luke Lea, U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and Minnesota territorial governor Alexander Ramsey negotiate separate treaties with the Upper and Lower Dakota Bands. In July they meet with the Upper Bands (Sisseton and Wahpeton) at Traverse des Sioux. After several weeks of discussions and threats, the Upper Bands relinquish their claims to all Minnesota lands west of the Mississippi in exchange for an immediate cash payment of $305,000 and annuity payments in goods, food, education, and gold. The treaty also provides for a reservation along the upper Minnesota River. Thinking they are endorsing a third copy of the treaty, the Dakota leaders sign “Traders’ Papers,” illegal documents drafted by the traders themselves. The documents promise much of the $305,000 cash payment to the traders to fulfill “just obligations.”

In August the commissioners begin negotiations with the Lower Bands at Mendota. The Mdewakanton and Wahpekute are pressured into agreeing to terms similar to those forced on the Upper Bands, including $220,000 in upfront cash to the fur traders. Both treaties promise the Dakota new reservations along the Minnesota River “in perpetuity,” a pledge that will not be kept.

“But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.” Exodus 11:7

Sweet Holy Ghost, I really do not relish writing today, especially for such a time as this in our state’s memory. Will You lead me, perhaps give me insights, and the courage to pray for this moment of contention? Through Your amazing kindness for the brokeness of humankind, I invite You to come watch this treaty!

I do offer real thanks for the promise that the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux offered. There was a chance to make things clear, put things in writing, and have an agreement that honored both sides. Thanks for this chance to become better neighbors, even if it was squandered.

This what I see today, the Upper and Lower Dakota Bands were willing to concede land if the end result was a stable and secure future. I see them extending these concessions in good faith and a real sense of relationship. What is also clear is that Luke Lea, Sibley, Ramsey, and the fur traders’ lobby were used to getting their way. Their quotes suggest an attitude of dominance and willingness to exert power.

This is my confession to You today Wise Counselor: will You forgive these grievous sins made through Luke Lea, Henry Sibley, Alexander Ramsey, the Bureau of Indian Affairs towards these specific peoples, tribes, first nations; the Sisseton, the Wahpeton, Mdewakanton, and the Wahpekute? Will You lift the weight of this robbery from their shoulders, and restore their inheritance?

More specifically, will You forgive the spirit of deception behind the “Traders Papers”, and the damage it did both relationally and economically to these tribes?
Will You forgive the horror of our offense to You, done in the name of our state, it’s officers, and any other duplicitous parties? Have mercy on these “Traitors Papers”!

We also offend You, Great Spirit, when we answer offense with counter offense. Will You forgive the Sisseton, Wahpeton, Mdwakanton, and Wahpekute any counter-judgments against the same offending parties, whether named; Lea, Sibley, Ramsey, or the B.I.A., or unnamed, the authors of the “Traders Papers”? May these peoples receive mercy so they do not carry this offense generationally in their hearts, and become doubly wronged?

That said, will You make a difference between the righteous and the unrighteous? As Abraham asked of You, “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?…Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Of Course You Will!
I praise You that You allow each generation the fruits of their choices! You allow humans to be temporarily wronged by the short-sighted, but these ill-gotten gains will bring separation and destruction. May all such devious treaties ring hollow throughout the history of Minnesota!

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

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