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To the editor:
For those of you interested in the US-Dakota War of 1862, I recommend reading the book “Dakota Dawn” by Gregory F. Michno. It gives a fair, balanced and concise account of the uprising. It is by far the most detailed book about this subject that I’ve read. The book provides photos of battle sites and monuments, maps of Indian villages and the settlers’ homesteads. The author even researched the names and ages of all those involved in the conflict – I was very surprised to come across the name of my own great-grandfather, Charles Woehler, among the pages.
Some of these pioneers had only been in Minnesota a few weeks when the war started. Many could not speak English. Some were targeted because they did not own firearms and had no way to defend themselves and their families.
Mr. Michno also points out the disaster that awaits when people are made to be dependent upon a government that cannot keep its promises. At times, the book can be difficult to read because of the many atrocities committed during the uprising. The author lays the blame at the feet of the government with the Indians and settlers paying the ultimate price.
After reading “Dakota Dawn,” I had a clearer understanding of why the Indians were dealt with as harshly as they were, but also why the Dakota were forced to take drastic measures to preserve their families and their way of life.