Sorry again, but this is not a feel-good post. It is, however, a truth and a fact of our history … I’m just sayin’, it’s not a feel good post. However, I am doing another post, that isn’t so gloomy a minute from now.
Before the days of Sitting Bull and the Northwest Mounted Police, the people in the Red River-Fort Garry area suffered a real scare. Little Crow appeared at Fort Garry with eighty of his followers, demanding food and ammunition.
Little Crow was an amazing Indian. He attended the Episcopal Church every Sunday wearing a good suit, white collar and dark tie. He looked like any other American or German farmer from the area, except for his gleaming black hair and beaded moccasins.
In 1851, the American Government persuaded the Sioux to live in two reservations. The Indians felt they had been tricked into the deal, and cheated of a down payment of $275,000. Furthermore, the $45,000 they received every month for supplies often arrived late, and when it came the storekeeper would sell the Indians spoiled, wormy food. When the payment due in August 1862, failed to arrive, Little Crow went to storekeeper Myrick and asked him for food supplies on credit. Myrick replied, “If your people are hungry, let them eat grass.”
Next Sunday Little Crow went to church as usual. Then he called a council of war. He told his followers that their golden opportunity had come. Most able-bodied men were fighting in the American Civil War. Nothing could stop the Sioux from regaining their freedom.
On Monday, August 18, storekeeper Myrick was found dead, his mouth stuffed with grass. Forty-eight hours later, 2,000 people had been killed, and Fort Garry and the Red River settlement were isolated. When Little Crow went to see Governor Dallas at Fort Garry, he brought along medals and flags that reminded the governor that the Sioux had fought for the British in 1812 and had been promised the protection of “the red flag of the north.” Governor Dallas agreed to provide food, but no ammunition or guns. The Sioux could not exist on that basis, so LIttle Crow disbanded them and headed south with his sixteen year old son, Wowpinapa. A few days later, an unknown white man saw them picking berries. Believing the adage “The only good Indian is a dead Indian,” he shot and killed them.
What a terrible, and sad, story this is. If you want to learn more about this, there are actually a few places to visit. You can start with a presentation at Prezi.com and then you can read a series of articles at the Star Tribune from Minneapolis. After that, you can go to Canada’s First Peoples, and Modern American Poetry, as well as the U.S. – Dakota War of 1862, and then finally the Dakota War (1862).
- 150th Anniversary of the Dakota War (nebraskapress.typepad.com)
- Memories fade of Wiseman Massacre 150 years ago (journalstar.com)
- The Dakota War remembered (nebraskapress.typepad.com)