The Twins

Written and donated by Timm Severud


My greatest joy is trying to figure out how a story fits together. To see the human face again put on our history, rather than the propaganda born from the conscience of the past. In delving into the history and stories of our corner of this continent, there is one story, from the Ojibwa that has jumped out at me, for it is not often that one runs into what can only be described as a Shakespearean Tragedy.

We must step back to a period when the Ojibwa and Dakota were in the midst of their 'time of conflict.'  Many tend to think that there was a constant state of fighting between them over this land, but that is not correct.  There was ebb and flow to that history, just as there was seasonality to their wars.  These were times of war and times of peace and there is a much greater story in this than the mere story of two men of this region and their families. For this is just one rock in the great fieldstone wall of heritage left for us to live with.

In 1795 a chief of the Mdewakotan band Dakota was killed by a war party of Ojibwa from the Rice Lake area, for they were again living in a 'time of fear and war'.  The next year his widow initiated a war party of retribution against the Ojibwa. William W. Warren, in his 1852 book (not published until 1885) History of the Ojibway (a book now on the shelves of the Calhoun Library) wrote down the next part of the story as follows:

'In the year 1796, several wigwams under the guidance of the war-chief, "Yellow Head," collected at Prairie Rice Lake, to gather wild rice, and as usual in those days of danger, they located themselves on the island. Early one morning the chief called the men of the camp into his lodge, to take a social smoke, when he informed them that he had been visited during the night by his guardian spirit in a dream, and he knew that the Dakotas must be lurking near. He bade them not to go on their usual day's hunt, and sent two young men to go and scout the shores of the lake, to discover some fresh signs of the enemy. The scouts, embarking in a canoe, immediately started on their errand. They had not arrived more than half a mile from the camp, when, approaching the shore, they were fired at by an ambuscade of the enemy. One was killed, and the other, though severely wounded, succeeded, amid volleys of bullets, in pushing his canoe out of their reach.

The men of the Ojibways, hearing the firing, all that were able to bear arms grasped their weapons, and to the number of twenty-five, many of whom were old men and mere boys, embarked in their canoes, and paddled towards the scene of action, to join the fight. The Dakotas, perceiving this movement, sent a body of their warriors to lie in ambush at; the spot where they supposed the Ojibways would attempt a landing. The women of the camp, however, seeing the enemy collecting in large numbers to intercept their men, hollered to them, and informing them of the ambuscade, the Ojibways turned about, and landed on the main shore, immediately opposite the island. Intending to attack the Dakotas by land, they sent the canoes back by some women who had come with them for the purpose. Yellow Head, then heading the party, led them through a thicket of underbrush towards the point where the enemy were still firing at the scouts.

In passing through these thickets, Yellow Head discovered a Dakota woman, holding in her arms a young boy, about two years old, covered, with a profuse quantity of wampum and silver ornaments. She was the wife, and the child a son, of a noted Dakota war-chief who had been lately killed by the Ojibways; and she had followed the war party of her people, raised to revenge his death, in order to initiate her little son, and wipe the paint of mourning from her face. In expectation of a fight, the Dakotas had bade her to hide in these thickets, little thinking that they would he the first victims whose scalps would grace the belts of the Ojibways. Yellow Head, on perceiving the woman and child, yelled his fierce war-whoop, and rushing up to her he snatched the boy from her arms, and throwing him with all his force behind him, he bade his aged father (who was following his footsteps) to dispatch it. He then pursued the woman, who had arisen, and now fled with great swiftness towards her friends, uttering piercing shrieks for help. The Dakotas, having heard the Ojibway war-yell, and now hearing the cries of their woman, ran, to the number of near one hundred men, to her rescue. A younger warrior of the Ojibways had passed his war-chief, and though seeing the advance of the enemy, he followed up the chase, till, catching up with her, he stabbed her in the back, and was stooping over her body to cut off her head, when his chief called on him to fly, for the Dakotas were on him. Not a moment too soon did the young warrior obey this call, for the spears of the enemy almost reached his back as he turned to fly, and being laden with the bloody head, which he would not drop, the foremost of the Dakotas fast gained on him; but not till he felt the end of a spear point entering his back did he call on his chief to turn and help him.

Yellow Head, who was noted for his great courage, instantly obeyed the call, and throwing himself behind a pine tree, he shot down the Dakota who had caught up with him, and was almost dispatching his comrade. The fallen warrior was dressed in a white shirt, wore a silver medal on his breast, and silver ornaments on his arms. He carried nothing but a spear in his hand, denoting him to be a chief, and the leader of the Dakota war party. He was the uncle of the boy who had just been dispatched, which accounts for the eagerness with which he pursued the Ojibway warrior, keeping so close to his back that his warriors dared not discharge their firearms, for fear of hitting him.

The moment the Dakota leader fell, his fellows took cover behind the trees, and Yellow Head, having saved his comrade, who now stood panting by his side, called on his people, "if they were men, to turn and follow his example." But ten out of the twenty-five were brave enough to obey his call, and these, taking cover behind trees and bushes, fought by his side all day. Though the Dakotas ten times outnumbered them, the Ojibways caused them to retreat at nightfall, leaving seven of their warriors dead on the field. The Ojibways lost but three men, besides the scout who had been killed by the ambuscade. Some days after the fight, the Ojibways discovered a number of bodies which the enemy, to conceal their loss, had hid in a swamp adjacent to the battlefield.'

Within a year, they again made peace and in order to make amends for the loss of a chief's line, Yellow Head did something that awes me.  He had twin sons about the same age as the child that had been slain and he gave the younger of the twins to the Dakota's as a way of making amends, something he felt deeply was necessary if there was to be a good and lasting peace.  The boy he gave to the Dakota became known to us as Shakopee (The Six 1794-1868) Chief of the Mdewakotan Band of the Dakota and the older brother is today known to us as Chief Nenaangebi (1794-1855 Beautifying Bird - this name describes what a bird like the male grouse does when it is on it's drumming log) of the Ojibwa Man-Fish and Cat Fish clans of the Rice Lake (Long Lake to Prairie Lake) region of the Red Cedar River.

Nenaangebi signed three treaties. First at Fond du Lac (Duluth, MN) on August 5, 1826 he signed as the third name representing the St. Croix Chippewa, the treaty makers recorded his name as Nagwunabee.  This treaty is called the Copper Treaty and is the one that allowed the United States to gain the mineral wealth of this land. He signed as the senior member of the delegation from Lac Courte Oreilles on the Timber Treaty of La Pointe on October 4, 1842. This was followed with the Reservation Treaty of La Pointe on September 30, 1854 where his name is recorded under the Lac Courte Oreilles delegation as Nay-naw-ong-gay-be, or the Dressing Bird.

In late July or early August of 1855 he was notified by Indian Commissioner Manypenny that his people were to gather at La Pointe and receive their goods and money as they were entitled to under the treaty he had signed more than a year before.  The previous late fall he had taken his people to La Pointe to receive their annual payment.  It took them longer to get there than they planned and there was very little left when they got there.  His people had suffered from many years of poor harvest and game was becoming harder to find.  He had to be on constant guard against raids by the Sioux.  His people had received nothing from the Indian Agents for over five years.  The message could not have come at a worse time.  The harvest of the wild rice was about to begin.  There was much to do.  He did not know if there was going to be enough rice.  He was not optimistic about it.  Now Commissioner Manypenny wanted him to take his people to La Pointe for their payments.  He would not come immediately; to leave now meant starvation that winter for his people.  He knew he had to go, so he called a Council.  With the help of others he came to a decision.  They decided to leave their four best warriors with the older women, the sick and some of the children.  It was a risk that didn't set well with any of them and it would mean a lot of work for the older women.  Those that stayed behind would not receive payment.  If someone didn't stay and gather the rice there would not be enough to eat the coming winter.  If everything worked out like they hoped they could gather most of the rice and most of the payment. The majority of his people then traveled by overland trial to La Pointe.  The other clans of the area met up with them on this trip.

I take the following from 'Chippewa's of Lake Superior' by Dr. Richard E. Morse, of Detroit, Michigan published by the Historical Society of Wisconsin in the Third Annual Report and Collections of the State, for the year 1856, Volume 3 (pages 338 -344):

It may be remembered that the payment to the Chippewa Indians at La Pointe, in August and September of 1855 necessarily deferred during several weeks, waiting for the more remote bands to come in.

The Department had sent the express and timely orders to persons at La Pointe, to have the Indians gathered, and to be in waiting for the Commissioner or Agent, with goods and money for the payment, as per treaty, when arrived.  The persons failed to carry out the orders.

The officers of the Commission, and persons connected with the payments, had to remain from that time (11th August), until messengers could be dispatched for the Bands at a distance, to Grand Portage, North Shore, and over 200 miles inland towards the Mississippi and other directions.  Consequently the Indians from the interior were weeks in arriving.  The interval of time being occupied by the Agency in taking the Census of- and in holding Councils with the Chiefs in relation to affairs of unsettled business, directing in regard to the payment of their debts per appropriation from the Government of $90,000.00 for that purpose.  Many sittings and Councils were held, and speeches made between those of the Commission and the Chiefs.  A long time, it seemed, had transpired.

The Bands from the vicinity of Lac Courte Oreilles were yet to come.  Finally, news of their, arrival of some 200 of these Indians, upon the shore of the Bay, about 12 miles from La Pointe, had the evening before reached the Commissioner, who promptly employed three or four sail boats, the only craft at hand, to bring the Indians over.

The day was bright and warm.  It was nearly noon when the three or four little sail boats which had been dispatched to fetch these forest children across the bay to La Pointe hove in sight, and nearing the shore, laden almost to the water's edge with men, women and children, there was a general gathering on the shore to see them as they came in.  A scene of the likes of poverty and wretchedness, we hope we may never witness again.  Some of these poor creatures, especially the children were literally naked.

They had but shreds for blankets, birch bark baskets and birch bark dishes, were their chief wares - rude and untanned deer and other skins, their principal wardrobe and baggage.  Clothing they could not be said to have had.  Some of the men had what were once shirts -- some had not -- some, parts of leggings -- others none.  Most of the women had on them some kind of miserable excuse for a garment.

The children nearly, some quite naked, were, as if to hide them from sight, mostly inside a circle made of their effects, and what was a sad apology for baggage.

Several of these wretched were so feeble from hunger and sickness, that they needed supporting.  A number were lame, and others partial blind.  All had, for some time been on scanty rations of naught but wild rice, as they could neither fish nor hunt while hurrying with their sick and children and fearing their enemies would ambush -- to meet their Great Father.  Commissioner Manypenny, General H. L. Stevens, and many others who were present and can bear testimony to these truths.

Of these interior Bands, Nay-Naw-Ong-Ga-Be was the Head.  They were from within 60 miles to 100 miles of the Mississippi on the opposite side of which is the country of their old and implacable enemies, the Sioux.  Between these tribes, deadly feuds and exterminating wars have existed for more than a century, defying all efforts from their white neighbors, and the means of which have been employed by the U. S. Government, to halt them.  Hence these people have good reasons to be in continual fear, and on the constant watch for their lives.

The warriors of these Bands, it was conceded, excelled those of any and all others at La Pointe, in their noble features and fine, erect statures, nor were they inferior in their sprightliness of mind; their Head Chief Nay-Naw-Ong-Ga-Be was the smartest orator on the grounds.  Not long after they arrived, the Commissioner sent a request for these Bands to meet him at the Council ground, for the purpose of receiving rations.  In two or three hours we saw some 80 to 100 stately warrior, Nay-Naw-Ong-Ga-Be at their head, marching in more regular order than those bands less accustomed to the war path, to meet the Commissioner.  These Indian came late last year also, and the goods mainly having been distributed, they receive but very little.

The Head Chief, Nay-Naw-Ong-Ga-Be, we should say had seen about fifty-five winters.  He is rather less than medium height and size, an intelligent face and mild expression, a very keen eye, and when animated in speaking, a sort of fiery look or twinkle.  Like most warriors, his face is highly colored with vermilion.  At the head of his warriors and in Council, he wore an elaborate turban of feathers over his head and shoulders -- giving a fuller appearance in person than he really had, a unique look even for an Indian.

It was not long after this Chief arrived, before he became the favorite Orator and Chief.  We saw and noticed much of him and his people.  We believe they have innate impulses as exalted as in the human bosom ever dwelt.  We saw tears of sympathy over the scene of misery before us, when these people landed at La Pointe.  On the ground, the day they arrived, by the side of Nay-Naw-Ong-Ga-Be stood Aw-Key-Wain-Ze, his principal, a tall and majestic Chief and a full head and neck above the red warriors seated around on the grass.  The Commissioner addressed them, John Johnson, of the Soo, a half Chippewa, and a man of unusual intelligence and character did the interpreting.

The Commissioner having said that he was very glad to see him and his people, though they come late; that they felt pained to see them in such sorrowful condition, looking so poverty stricken, et cetera.

Nay-Naw-Ong-Ga-Be, in a manner dignified and earnest, readily replied, "My Father, we too are very happy to see you.  We have reasons for not coming immediately after we heard your voice echoing through the wilderness.  We were all roused by the sound of your voice.  It created glad feelings and rejoicing among all my people.  I lost no time to give orders to all of my young men to collect before me.  I then informed them that your words had reached me, desiring us to come immediately, while we were busily engaged in collecting wild rice, to provide for our sick, aged, women and children who could not travel, with but four of my best warriors to defend them from my troublesome and dangerous neighbors the Sioux, and I and my people with me, hastened upon the pathway to the shores of Lake Chippewa (Superior).  I have obeyed your call and am now before you."

"You say, my Father, you are sorry to see us in our state of poverty.  No wonder, my Father, you see us in poverty and showing so much nakedness.  Five long winters have passed since I have received as much as a blanket for my children."

"My Father, what has become of your promise?  You probably have sent what you have promised to us, but, where has it gone, that is more than I am able to say.  Perhaps it has sunk in the deep waters of the Lake, or it may have evaporated in the heavens, like the rising of the mist, or perhaps it has blown over our heads, and gone towards the setting sun.  Last year I visited our Father (Indian Agent H. C. Gilbert) who came here, and gave goods to a portion of his red children, but I could not get here in time, I got nothing.  I turned around to some of our traders, no doubt standing among us here, and asked them for some clothing to take to my poor children, but they refused me.  Therefore I had to retrace my footsteps over a long road, with empty hands, to my home in the woods, just as I had come."

"In your words to me, you ask me not to use the fire-water, and after the traders refused me, as I said before, I do not intend to accept their fire-water in case they offer it to me."

"I returned to my home.  I endured the severity of the long cold winter with what nature had provided for me; relieved only by the skins I had taken from the beasts of the forest.  I had to sit nearer to my little fire for want of what I did not get from my Great Father and could not get from the traders; I am not like your red children that live on these shores of the Lake, he desired you to bring him the irons to spear the fish, and small twine he uses in dropping his hook into the water.  I told you my Father, I live principally in traveling through my home in the forest, by carrying the iron on my shoulder, that, whenever I aim at the wild animal, he falls before me.  I have come with my young men, and we have brought most of our families on the strength of your promise last year, that you would give us good portions for our want this year, and like all your children, my Father, after a hard day's labor, or a long walk, I am hungry and my people need something to give them strength and comfort.  It is so long since a gun was given us, we have only a few stubs, bound together by leather strings with which to kill our game, and to defend ourselves against our enemies."

"My Father, look around you, upon the faces of my poor people, sickness and hunger, whiskey and war, are killing us off fast.  We are dying and fading away; we drop to the ground like trees before the ax of the white man, we are weak, you are strong.  We are but foolish Indians, you have the knowledge and wisdom in your heads; we want your help and protection.  We have no homes, no cattle, no lands, and we will not long need them.  In a few short winters, my people will be no more.  The winds shall soon moan around the last lodge of your red children.  I grieve; but am powerless to turn our fate away.  The sun, the moon, the rivers, the forest, we love so well, we must leave.  We shall soon sleep in the ground, we will not awake again.  I have no more to say to you, my Father." {This ends Dr. Morses's account.)

(Historical Society Note) - we add the following appreciative remarks from the Lake Superior Miner, of October 1855, which closed with the reference to Nay-Naw-Ong-Ga-Be.  At the payment made a La Pointe this fall, Chief Nay-Naw-Ong-Ga-Be, made the following remarks, in answer to the question asked him by the Agent, if he fully understood the Articles of the Treaty, which he had signed last year.  He said, "My Father, I was here last year, when the Treaty was made, and I swallowed all the words of the Treaty down my throat, and they have not yet had time to blister my breast."

Chief Nenaangebi left the payment of 1855 at La Pointe, returned to the Rice Lake Region, the rice was finished and they moved into their deer hunting camps.  He would not live long enough for the treaty to burn his breast.  In Benjamin G. Armstrong's Early Life Among the Indians (published in 1892 and at the end of Chapter 13) he picks up the story of what happened next:
While writing about chiefs and their character it may not be amiss to give the reader a short story of a chief's daughter in battle, where she proved as good a warrior as many of the sterner sex.  In the 1850's there lived in the vicinity of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, a band of Indians numbering about 200.  They were headed by a chief named Na-nong-ga-bee.  This chief, with about seventy of his people came to La Pointe to attend the treaty of 1854.  After a treaty payment was concluded he started home with his people, the route being through heavy forests and the trail one which was little used.  When they had reached a spot a south of the Namekagon River and near a place called Beck-qua-ah-wong they were surprised by a band of Sioux who were on the warpath and then in ambush, where a few Chippewas were killed, including the old chief and his oldest son, the trail being a narrow one only one could pass at a time, true Indian file.  This made their line quite long as they were not trying to keep bunched, not expecting or having any thought of being attacked by their life long enemy.  The chief, his son and daughter were in the lead and the old man and his son were the first to fall, as the Sioux had of course picked them out for slaughter and they were killed before they dropped their packs or were ready for war. The old chief had just brought the gun to his face to shoot when a ball struck him square in the forehead.  As he fell, his daughter fell beside him and feigned death.  At the firing Na-nong-ga-bee's Band swung out of the trail to strike the flanks of the Sioux and get behind them to cut off their retreat, should they press forward or make a retreat, but that was not the Sioux intention.  There was not a great number of them and their tactic was to surprise the band, get as many scalps as they could and get out of the way, knowing that it would be but the work of a few moments, when they would be encircled by the Chippewas.  The girl lay motionless until she perceived that the Sioux would not come down on them en-masse, when she raised her father's loaded gun and killed a warrior who was running to get her father's scalp, thus knowing she had killed the slayer of her father, as no Indian would come for a scalp he had not earned himself.  The Sioux were now on the retreat and their flank and rear were being threatened, the girl picked up her father's ammunition pouch, loaded the rifle, and started in pursuit.  Stopping at the body of her dead Sioux she lifted the scalp and tucked it under her belt.  She continued the chase with the men of her band, and it was two days before they returned to the women and children, whom they had left on the trail, and when the brave little heroine returned she had added two scalps to the one she started with.  She is now living, or was, but a few years ago, near Rice Lake, Wisconsin, the wife of Edward Dingley, who served in the war of rebellion from the time of the first draft of soldiers to the end of the war.  She became his wife in 1857, and lived with him until he went into the service, and at this time had one child, a boy.  A short time after he went to the war news came that all the party that had left Bayfield at the time he did as substitutes had been killed in battle, and a year or so after, his wife, hearing nothing from him, and believing him dead, married again. At the end of the war Dingley came back and I saw him at Bayfield and told him everyone had supposed him dead and that his wife had married another man.  He was very sorry to hear this news and said he would go and see her, and if she preferred the second man she could stay with him, but that he should take the boy.  A few years ago I had occasion to stop over night with them. And had a long talk over the two marriages.  She told me the circumstances that had let her to the second marriage.  She thought Dingley dead, and her father and brother being dead, she had no one to look after her support, or otherwise she would not have done so.  She related the related the pursuit of the Sioux at the time of her father's death with much tribal pride, and the satisfaction she felt at revenging herself upon the murder of her father and kinsmen.  She gave me the particulars of getting the last two scalps that she secured in the eventful chase.  The first she raised only a short distance from her place of starting; a warrior she espied skulking behind a tree presumably watching for some one other of her friends that was approaching.  The other she did not get until the second day out when she discovered a Sioux crossing a river.  She said: "The good luck that had followed me since I raised my father's rifle did not now desert me," for her shot had proved a good one and she soon had his dripping scalp at her belt although she had to wade the river after it.
This ambush by the Dakota was lead by Nenangebi's own twin brother Shakopee.  Among the scalps Hanging Cloud took was one of her own cousins, for the first scalp she took was one of Shakopee's sons.  It seems that when the peace was lost this family would bleed on both sides of the St. Croix River.

Chief Nenaangebi's wife, Niguio, escaped the attack, but died soon after.  They had three surviving son's Wabashish, John and Joe White; and seven daughters Maggie White, Chingway, Poskin (Mary Goose - Mrs. Andrew Tainter), Minotagas, Wabikwe, Hanging Cloud (Mrs. Edward Dingley) and Ashaweia (Montanice (Montanis) Couvillion Bracklin Barker).

Wabashish, the eldest son, succeeded his father as Chief and while not popular with the whites, as his father had been, seemed to get along quite well with his own people, until bad blood developed between himself and an Indian named Bedud and his two sons.  In a quarrel at the camp on Long Lake in the fall of 1870, Bedud stabbed and killed Wabashish.  Bedud had been drinking.  John, brother of Wabashish, was working in a logging camp of Knapp, Stout & Co. on the east shore of Red Cedar Lake, when he heard the news.  He hastened to Long Lake, and in spite advise to throw away a bottle of liquor and bide his time, he rushed to the hut of Bedud, and as he lifted the flap was shot through the chest.  Staggering into a cabin, he shouted, "I am dying", and fell over dead.

Joe, the now last surviving son of the Chief Nenaangebi and Niguio became tribal leader and wisely bided his time for revenge.  Bedud and his sons made their way to the St. Croix valley.  In the fall of 1882 a great tribal gathering was held Lac Courte Oreilles, which Bedud attended.  After the powwow and as Bedud was leaving, single file with five companions, he was shot from ambush.  Things went along tranquilly until 1894, when Joe was shot and killed by a game warden near the old campgrounds on Long Lake, when he and a party of his friends were hunting deer out of season in Washburn County in a denial of treaty rights.  At the trial, held in Shell Lake, 46 witnesses were called and after two weeks the game warden was acquitted.  Thus passed the last son of the old chief.

Chief Nenaangebi is buried near the high hill at Prairie Farm and there is a Historical Society marker nearby.  Niguio was buried near the west bank of the Red Cedar River on the north end of the City of Rice Lake within a few feet of the edge of highway 48.  A portrait of Chief Nenaangebi hung in the Wisconsin Historical Society Library in Madison according to a letter to his grandson, Thomas Jefferson Bracklin from the society in 1933.

Chief Shakopee lived to see his world totally changed having signed the Treaty of Mendota on August 5, 1851 he ceded his claim to lands in what is today southeastern Minnesota and moved onto a reservation in southwestern Minnesota along the Minnesota River. With the coming of the Civil War annuity payments were late and rumors were circulated that payments, if they will be made at all, would not be in the customary gold, but in greenbacks because of the ongoing Civil War.

During the summer of 1862 Shakopee died and starvation was a contributing factor to his death.  Upon his death another his sons Eatoka (Another Language) took his over as chief and the leadership of the Dakota migrated to Little Crow.  Eatoka took on the name of his father Shakopee and is usually referred to as Little Six.

Many feel that if Old Shakopee had lived what happened next would not have occurred, but who are we to know this?

The Dakota planned to demand that future annuity payments be made directly to them, rather than through traders.  Traders, learning of plan, refused to sell provisions on credit, despite widespread hunger and starvation on the reservation.  At a meeting called by Indian Agent Thomas Galbraith to resolve the impasse, Andrew Myrick, spokesman for the traders, said: "So far as I am concerned, if they are hungry, let them eat grass."

In his book "Early Life Among the Indians" in Chapter 3, Benjamin G. Armstrong describes the cause of this uprising.

I returned to St. Paul with the superintendent, and on the way he said there was likely to be trouble with the Sioux, as they had been waiting for their annuities a long time and were getting restless and were dissatisfied, and he would like to have me go with him to New Ulm, the Sioux Agency, which I did.  We found there was much restlessness among the Indians and equally as much among the white traders.  I found parties the first night I was there among the Sioux who spoke the Chippewa tongue, and talked with them.  I found out the feeling that prevailed among the people.  I talked with Bill Taylor, a half-breed Negro, who made a business of attending Indian payments for the purpose of gambling, and as he spoke the Sioux language.  He told me what the Indians and Traders were saying.  The traders were continually telling the Indians to receive nothing but coin in payment.  I heard at one or two other trading posts the same thing, and knowing that coin was a scarce article just at that time in the United States, I informed the superintendent of what was going on, and gave it as my opinion that unless they were paid right away there would be trouble.  The superintendent called the chiefs together and told them that he would give them their goods annuities at once, as they were then on the ground, and then they could their women and children home, as soon as the money came he would notify them and they could come for it.  They asked what kind of money it would be, to which he answered, he did not know, but whichever kind it was he would pay it to them.  He could not tell what kind of money the great father had on hand, but thought it would be currency.  They then demanded coin and said they would not take greenbacks, to which the superintendent replied: "I will go right back to St. Paul and if the great father has not sent the money I will borrow it and return as quickly as I can and pay you."  We started at once for St. Paul, but before we arrived there we heard of the terrible uprising of the Sioux and the slaughter of people.  This was the awful massacre of New Ulm, with which everybody is so familiar.  I attributed the whole trouble then and still do; to the bad advice of the traders.  These traders knew that all the money the Sioux drew would, in a short time would be in their hands, and as specie was at a high premium, they allowed their speculation to get the better of their judgment, the penalty of which was the forfeiture of their lives.  I afterward heard that Bill Taylor was first among the dead.
On August 17, 1862, four Dakota killed five settlers near Litchfield.  Councils were held among the Dakota on whether to wage war.  There were deep divisions on the issue; many realizing that war would be an act of suicide, but however war was the chosen course. The next day groups of Dakota killed 44 and captured 10 Americans in attacks on the Redwood Agency and on federal troops advancing to the Agency in the hopes of suppressing the uprising.  Minnesota's Governor Ramsey appoints Col. Henry Sibley to command American volunteer forces on August 19, 1862, the same day the Battle of New Ulm began and sixteen settlers were killed in Dakota attacks in and around New Ulm.  The next day the Dakotas attacked Fort Ridgely, the battle lasted two days and the fort was successful in repelling the attack. On August 23, 1862 about 650 Dakota attacked New Ulm for a second time.  Most buildings in the town are burned.  The town was successfully defended, although most of the buildings were burned and there were 34 killed and 60 wounded. On September 23, 1862 at the battle of Wood Lake there was a decisive victory for American troops under General Pope.  The war lasted for 37 days of fighting, the Dakota Conflict had claimed the lives of over 500 Americans and about 60 Dakota.  The Dakota's had taken 269 American captives.

After some very quick trials 303 Dakota were convicted of murder and sentenced to death.  Abraham Lincoln intervened, but in the end ordered the execution of 38 of them on December 26, 1862.  This execution is the largest mass execution ever to occur on the order of the United States Government and is a low tide point in our history.

Little Six was not popular with the 'white man', like his father or Wabasha had been. He had seen his father die in neglect and had been told to 'eat grass'. During the uprising Little Six had supplied stolen horses to some of Little Crow's men, and according to some tales he did much more. He escaped for a while into Manitoba. In 1864 he was tricked into re-entering the United States captured, tried and hung.

I have reflected many times on the deeper meanings of such a story, such history and have slowly come to realize I know nothing.  It seems to me that in an act of peace a family was divided and chasm filled with the bodies, blood and lives of those that had to live with it.  We seem to do as strange a things making peace as we do making war. This history is for some the distant past, for others the stories of their family; in either case it is a part of the history that owns us and is well worth reflecting on.


Last Update Friday, 01-Apr-2011 00:59:39 EDT

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