LaBatte’s response to Mack
To the editor:
In response to Mr. Mack: Many of my Dakota and White ancestors were involved on all sides of the Dakota War in 1862. I have been researching this history for many years. Much wrong information is picked up and repeated. We have to be very careful when seeking the truth. For more information, visit my blog at dakotawar1862.wordpress.com/.
You have stated, “For over 100 years, the Dakota people’s suffering was ignored and their perspectives repressed.” I mentioned Dr. Charles Eastman to show that this was incorrect. Any Dakota person who wanted to write or speak about their history was able to do this. See “Through Dakota Eyes” by Anderson and Woolworth. See Frances Densmore’s work. See “Mystic Lake Sioux” by Landes. See “Being Dakota” by Oneroad and Skinner. I disagree with you.
Who committed genocide in the Dakota War of 1862? The whites who killed about 145 Dakota or the hostile Dakota who killed more than 650 whites? If the U.S. policy was genocide, the U.S. Army would have killed all of the Dakota at Camp Release. When hostile Dakota swept through Milford on Aug. 18, they killed some 50 men, women and children. They took no hostages. What do you think would have happened had the hostile Dakota broken through the New Ulm barricades? They may have taken a few captives and they would have killed everyone else. Traditional Dakota warfare was genocide in today’s terms.
If you believe Fort Snelling was a concentration camp, see “What You May Not Know About the Fort Snelling Indian Camps” by Monjeau-Marz and Osman in the current issue of Minnesota Heritage Magazine. See “Trails of Tears: Minnesota’s Dakota Indian Exile Begins” by Bakeman and Richardson. See “Dakota Indian Internment at Fort Snelling, 1862-1864” by Monjeau-Marz. The Dakota taken to Mankato were force-marched. The Dakota taken to Fort Snelling were not. The 285 white and mixed-blood hostages taken by the hostile Dakota were forced-marched to Little Crow’s camp and then to Camp Release. They were to be used as human shields if the U.S. Army attacked.
Yes, no doubt, some of the 38 hanged at Mankato were innocent. But most of them were guilty of committing war crimes against innocent civilians. Those who were not hanged were saved from hanging; they were not acquitted.