Another response on the US-Dakota War
Letter to the editor:
In response to Matt Boisen:
I appreciate your response and the clarification that you’ve provided. Admittedly, I may have misread statements that you originally made. It is easy for an audience to mistake the intentions behind a letter or to read too far into statements that have been made. The elaboration of some of your points was helpful. I would like to clarify a few things as well.
I was not falling into an “us vs. them” trap when writing my letter, although I can see how this was misunderstood. The purpose was to offer an expanded perspective to some of your points. I appreciate the clarification of your initial emphasis on the “TWO sides to this conflict.” My point was to highlight that there are many sides. The intention was not “in defense of the Indians.” Rather, it was to offer points about the complexity of the situation overall. After reading your response letter, I think we agree on many of these points.
I did make some generalizations for the purpose of simplicity, just as you did. Perhaps we were both misread in this regard. Such is the challenge of this form of opinion sharing. Further, I also have access to documented facts to back up arguments. It is nice that you back up a few of your statements with references and reasonably, I should have done the same. However, to do so adequately would require more space than an editorial provides.
In response to your use of the terms “terrorism” and “genocide,” I fully disagree. Particularly, the framing of “the Indians” committing genocide against the whites is problematic. Fewer than 600 Dakota people took up arms against the whites. The use of the general term “Indians” is very misleading and the use of “genocide” seems inappropriate. Describing the events as “terrorism” is also not conductive to healing. This type of framing of historical events is too complex to fully address here. This may simply be point where we agree to disagree.
The reality of the overall complexity of the situation and the recognition that the settlers were in many ways “victims just as much as the Dakota” is agreeable. Therefore, I sincerely disagree with this statement of your response:
“The way I see it, we differ on one main point of opinion. You believe that the Indians were victims of governmental policies, and that this unfair treatment of the Indians justified the deaths of over 600 settlers. I do not. I believe that in 1862, the settlers were as much victims as the Indians and should be included equitably in any commemoration of the US-Dakota War.”
I DO NOT believe that this unfair treatment of the Dakota people justified the deaths of over 600 settlers. I agree that the inclusivity of perspectives is vital and was only offering some counter points to what initially appeared to be a distasteful argument. Again, thank you for your clarifications. It is my hope that we may conclude with the shared perspective that we are all in this together and agree that each of us must be part of healing.