Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Who was to blame for the Sioux Uprising of 1862?

This has been an ongoing debate and cause for hard feelings between Minnesota settlers and the Sioux community since 1862.The simple truth, dear reader, is that there was enough blame to pass around between the federal government, the Minnesota government, military and political leaders, Indian agents and traders, and the Indians themselves.

The treaties with the Sioux (Dakota) were not negotiated in good faith. The purpose of the treaties was to move Dakota Indians off their traditional hunting grounds so white settlers could move in, establish homesteads and businesses, and contribute to the tax base of the state so the state of Minnesota could grow. Indians at that time were viewed as savages, no better than blacks at that time, and less than human. The treaties were not negotiated for their benefit but rather to benefit the state of Minnesota.

The Sioux, in turn, were not paid their allotted annuities promised through the treaties because of the graft and corruption rampant within the government. During the civil war, the Sioux in far away Minnesota were even less of a priority with the government. The starving Sioux were justified in their outrage. They were not justified in those they turned their wrath against, the settlers on Minnesota's frontier who had nothing to do with the desperate conditions on the reservations. They killed more civilians during their initial massacre than were ever killed in an American Indian war before or since.

In this, the 150th anniversary of the Dakota Conflict of 1862, we commemorate all victims of the Dakota Conflict, we forgive the crimes committed by our ancestors, and we support the reconciliation long-sought by the white and Indian cultures.

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