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U.S. / Dakota Relations Pre Contact to Mass Execution. Pre Contact Fur Trade Treaty of Traverse des Sioux Annuities U.S./Dakota War Mass Execution. Who is this guy and why is he talking to me?. Ben Leonard, Director of NCHS Euro-American from NC BA, MA in History 4 ½ years with MHS

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U.S. / Dakota Relations Pre Contact to Mass Execution

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u s dakota relations pre contact to mass execution
U.S. / Dakota RelationsPre Contact to Mass Execution
  • Pre Contact
  • Fur Trade
  • Treaty of Traverse des Sioux
  • Annuities
  • U.S./Dakota War
  • Mass Execution
who is this guy and why is he talking to me
Who is this guy and why is he talking to me?
  • Ben Leonard, Director of NCHS
  • Euro-American from NC
  • BA, MA in History
  • 4 ½ years with MHS
  • 4 ½ years with NCHS
where we got our information
Where we got our information?
  • Dakota Elders Joe Williams, Sisseton Wapheton Oyate; Tom Ross, Upper Sioux Community Pejuhutazizi Oyate; and Maureen Aakre-Ross
  • Ella Deloria’s Speaking of Indians
  • Gary Clayton Anderson’s Kinsmen of Another Kind and Through Dakota Eyes
  • David Nichol’s Lincoln and the Indians
  • Carol Chomsky’s United States-Dakota War Trials: A Study in Military Injustice
"There are good and bad men everywhere -- could not point to any nation where all were good."Mazakutemani, 1857

Today we will make certain assumptions and assertions based on historical evidence. What we cannot do is lump all individuals together.

dakota way of being
Dakota Way of Being
  • Odakota – philosophy of peace. Basis for world view and governance
  • Way of Being – marriage, ceremonies, and blood relations shape society

“Peace is implied by the very name of the people, Odakota, a state or condition of peace…We Dakotas love peace within our borders. Peace-making is our heritage…Even as children we settle our little fights through Kinship that we might live in Odakota.” ~ Ella Deloria, Speaking of Indians

  • Dakota society is based on family, social relationships, and the idea of reciprocity
strangers became relatives
Strangers Became Relatives
  • Hunka Ceremony - joins individuals and their families, to other individuals and their families, to create new extended families
  • Dakota used Hunka to forge trading relationships with other Indian Nations
  • Outsiders, accepted through the Hunka, were considered Dakota
hunka and the fur trade
Hunka and the Fur Trade
  • Many Euro-American fur traders married into Dakota families. This gave them access to new trading networks.
  • For the most part early relationships were fairly equal. Traders participated in Dakota Way of Being and idea of reciprocity.
system breaks down
System breaks down
  • Americans predominate trade
  • Shortages of fur-bearing animals
  • Changes in European fashion
  • Timber sales and land speculation become profitable
  • Dakota furs in the spring not enough to compensate for “gifts” of trade goods the previous fall. Dakota go into debt with traders.
  • American government actively promoted trade debt as a way to expedite treaty process and acquire more Indian lands.
treaty of 1851
Treaty of 1851
  • Dakota hoped treaty will create a sustainable new economy
  • Signed at Traverse des Sioux July 18, 1851
  • 24 million acres, roughly 40 percent of modern-day Minnesota, for $1,665,000

"The Indians are all prepared to make a treaty when we tell them to do so, and such a one as I may dictate.”

~ Henry Sibley to P. Chouteau Jr. and Company, November 3, 1850

treaty of 1851 cont
Treaty of 1851 – cont.
  • Total cost: $1,665,000
    • $1,360,000 put in an annuity
      • 5% yearly payout ($68000) for fifty years ($3.4 m)
        • Civilization fund $12K
        • Education fun $6K
        • Goods/Provisions $10K
        • Cash annuity $40K
      • Principal itself is never paid by design
    • Remaining $305,000
      • $30K to build farms, schools, mills, blacksmith shops
      • $275,000 left . . .
treaty of 1851 cont1
Treaty of 1851 – cont.

$305 K to be paid “to the Chiefs of said bands, to enable them to comply with their present just engagements”

As each chief signed the treaty, they were directed “pulled by the blanket” to another barrel to sign what many assumed was another copy of the treaty (Folwell)

$210,000 was divided up by the various traders (including Sibley, who received over $66K, JB Faribault $22.5K, Bailly & Dousman, $15K)

broken promises
Broken Promises
  • Trader’s Paper – illegal but enforced document that sent payments bound to Dakota directly to Euro-American traders.
  • Congress – ratifies the treaty but strikes the portion that guarantees Dakota Minnesota River Reservation.
  • Monies withheld – funds diverted to physical improvements or traders, balance owed put in trust and only paid interest.
  • Agency needed to facilitate payment of annuities and “supervision” of reservations.
  • Commission on Indian Affairs created 1824 to “civilize” and educate Indians as well as administer treaty negotiations, regulate trade, and regulate land disputes.
commission on indian affairs in minnesota
Commission on Indian Affairs in Minnesota
  • Department became intertwined with local government, traders, and interests
  • Though not everyone was corrupt, there was corruption
  • There was mismanagement that led to late payments

“I have discovered numerous violations of law and many frauds committed by past agents and a superintendent.” ~ George Day to Abraham Lincoln, January 1, 1862

stood to benefit
Stood to Benefit
  • Indian Agents and others in the Commission had an opportunity to benefit greatly
  • Reimbursement for expenses
  • Political Favors
  • No bid contracts
  • Not all levels participated, but system was complacent to graft
situation for dakota deteriorates
Situation for Dakota Deteriorates
  • Forced to give up traditional way of life
  • Forced to give up reservation lands in 1858
  • Never received
  • Late payments
  • Rancid rations
  • Little game
  • Failed crops
dakota war
Dakota War
  • Began August 17, 1862 at Lower Sioux
  • Ended at Wood Lake September 23rd.
  • Estimates vary from 350 to 900 Euro-American civilians killed.
  • Number of Dakota dead from the fighting not known, but probably a few hundred
  • The war sent panic to Euro-American settlers and most fled western MN
dakota war cont
Dakota War, cont.
  • Only a few hundred Dakota actively participated in battles against Euro-Americans.
  • The vast majority of Dakota did not support the war and many actively assisted Euro-Americans and protected them.
three seasons of harvest
Three Seasons of “Harvest”
  • Treaty Season
  • Annuity Season
  • War
  • Many people on both sides were victimized, but it’s also fair to say some Euro Americans profited and Dakota people as a whole fared much worse.

“The Indian Traders and Indian Speculators had three great seasons of harvest.” ~ George A.S. Crooker to Abraham Lincoln, October 7, 1862

public attitudes
Public Attitudes
  • A significant portion of the general public called for the extermination of the Dakota
  • Still more called for the removal of Dakota from Minnesota
  • A few vocal Euro-Americans, including George Day, George Crooker, Thomas Williamson, Stephen Riggs, and Bishop Whipple criticized the Government and defended the Dakota people.
“There will be no peace in this region by virtue of treaties and Indian faith. It is my purpose utterly to exterminate the Sioux if I have the power to do so and even if it requires a campaign lasting the whole next year. Destroy everything belonging to them and force them out onto the plains, unless, as I suggest, you can capture them. They are to be treated as maniacs or wild beasts, and by no means as people with whom treaties or compromises can be made.” ~ General John Pope to Sibley September 28, 1862
“If such a commission [to investigate the causes of the US/Dakota War] is got up I should very much like to be one of its members and would do my best endeavors to lay bare the conduct of a set of villians [government agents] whose work has not only cost a large sum of money but has deluged our western frontier in blood… Each of the Statements including the last is true and I can well afford to wait and let the ‘truth of history’ vindicate my Statements.” ~ George Crooker to William Seward October 8, 1862
government action in mn
Government Action in MN
  • Removal over extermination
  • Cultural genocide
  • Placate those that called for extermination
  • Continue status quo
  • Civil War
  • Tacitly support profits of influential friends
  • Ties that bind
the trials
The Trials
  • 392 Dakota were tried by military tribunal
  • As many as 42 were tried in one day
  • Most charged with murder, rape, or robbery.
  • Charges were most often not specific, instead gave the dates for the war and accused participation
the military tribunal
The Military Tribunal
  • Sibley appoints 5 members: William Marshall, William Crooks, Hiram Grant, Hiram Bailey, and Rollin Olin.
  • All had fought against the Dakota.
  • Evidence mostly circumstantial, based on hearsay, or of questionable value
  • Trials did not differentiate between raids or pitched battles
  • Enemy soldiers had never before been charged with civilian crimes.
the convictions
The Convictions
  • 323 of 392 were convicted by November 3rd
  • 303 were sentenced to death by hanging
  • 20 were sentenced to terms of imprisonment from 1 to 10 years
  • Unknown to Sibley, relatively new federal statutes required Presidential approval of all executions.
lincoln and the dakota
Lincoln and the Dakota
  • General Pope, state government, and many of the general public urged the hanging of all 303.
  • However others, including Commissioner of Indian Affairs William Dole felt the executions would be “more of the character of revenge than of punishment.”
  • Many feared mob violence – a wagon train of Dakota prisoners headed to Mankato was stoned by an angry crowd in New Ulm.
lincoln and the dakota cont
Lincoln and the Dakota, cont.
  • Unrest and violence against the prisoners continued.
  • On December 6th Lincoln announced his decision to the Senate, “anxious not to act with so much clemency as to encourage another outbreak, on the one hand, nor with so much severity as to be real cruelty, on the other.”
  • He ordered that only those found guilty of participating in “massacres,” not those who took part in “battles,” should be executed.
the execution
The Execution
  • Dakota prisoners were not told of Lincoln’s decision until December 17th
  • 39 were moved on Dec 22nd
  • Tatimima was released on Dec 23rd after new information questioned his guilt
the execution cont
The Execution, cont.

“Tell our friends that we are being removed from this world over the same path they must shortly travel. We go first, but many of our friends may follow us in a short time. I expect to go directly to the abode of the Great Spirit and to be happy when I get there; but we are told that the road is long and the distance great…” ~ Tazoo

  • The execution of 38 Dakota took place in Mankato at 7:30am on December 26th 1862
the aftermath
The Aftermath
  • Those convicted and not executed were interned at Fort Snelling until late March. They were then sent to Camp McClellan in Davenport, IA
  • The acquitted were not freed. They were reunited in late April 1863 with 1,600 civilian Dakota still held at Fort Snelling and moved to the Crow Creek Reservation in SD
  • Lincoln continued to issue pardons for remaining Dakota prisoners until his death
  • The executions display the failings of the American justice system, inherent racism of the period, and a public wave of sentiment that favored genocide against the Dakota.
  • However there were personal instances where individuals advocated for the Dakota, or in the case of Lincoln, attempted to steer towards a slightly less horrible finality in Minnesota.