Telling the story of the settlers
To the editor:
Thank you to a previous writer for bringing up the friendly Indians, who were called “traitors,” had their homes and possessions burned and their lives threatened in 1862, and are still called ‘traitors’ today. That’s another piece of the story which needs to be told, just as the experiences of the white refugees and soldiers need to be told. They too were innocent victims of a war whose cause was complex but largely brought on by the conflicts over the U.S. Government Indian Policy. That complexity is also evidence of the diversity of experience for everyone who was alive at the time, whether white, mixed blood or Indian, and how necessary it is to hear all stories and viewpoints – not just the ‘Dakota as victim’ stories typically told.
Imagine the reaction of this retelling of history to the hundreds of settlers who were killed and captured in surprise attacks by some of the Dakota at the beginning of the War. These early pioneers to Minnesota were only looking to make a better life for their families, and their sacrifice is being forgotten and sometimes purposefully ignored. The story of the settler victims has virtually disappeared.
Perhaps the full story is being innocently overlooked; perhaps there is an interest in downplaying the war’s impact on the settlers in an effort at political correctness. Whatever the reason, there is no question that an accurate telling of our collective history is the only way for true learning, healing and reconciliation to occur.
Family and Friends of Dakota Uprising Victims is a group that was formed for the 150th anniversary of the 1862 Dakota Uprising in August, 2012. Their mission is to give voice to those descendants whose families were affected by the uprising and advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves. A website (www.dakotavictims1862.com) was created to publish stories written by descendants of these settler victims. There is also a companion Facebook page.
Co-Chair, Family and Friends
of Dakota Uprising Victims