4 August, 2017 17:16

I am always amazed at the fate that brings me to certain towns on certain days without preplanning on my part.
Leaving Hutchinson, Minnesota after breakfast and a flat tire (overinflated a patched tube and blew it out – my fault) I was wheeling west across the Crow River and noticed some historical markers and this statue on the north side of the bridge.
As it turns out, this is the place where Chief Little Crow (Taoyateduta) of the Santee Sioux (Mdewakanton Dakota) was shot and killed by white settlers Nathan Lampson and his son Chauncy while Little Crow was picking raspberries with his teenage son, Wowinapa, on Julky 3rd, 1863.
Little Crow had been coerced into signing away much of his people’s land in the Minnesota Territory by US representatives, backed by military might, at the Treaties of Traverse des Sioux on July 23rd, 1851, and the Treaty of Mendota on August 5th, 1851. The Dakota were allowed to continue living on a reservation that extened merely 10 miles on either side of the upper Minnesota River. But when Congress ratified those treaties, they unilaterally removed Article 3, regarding the establishment of the reservation. Promised annuities and goods were slow in coming, or diverted through the ineptitude and corruption of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, stolen outright, or paid to white traders directly in exchange for purported debts owed them by the Dakota. White settlers were encroaching on traditional hunting grounds, and taking game that otherwise would have gone to sustain the Dakota.
At a subsequent treaty negotiation, in 1858, the US took the northern half of the original reserved land along the Minnesota, under threat of force. Little Crow reportedly said upon signing, "This is the way you all do. You use very good language but we never receive half what is promised or which we ought to get."
Starvation was upon the people during the course of American preoccupation with the Civil War. In the summer of 1862, fighting broke out when a young brave killed four settlers. Little Crow took council and agreed to lead a war party to drive the settlers out of their treaty lands.
For a time, his tactical brilliance resulted in the continual defeat of militias sent against his band. Hundreds of white settlers were killed and driven off traditional Dakota lands – perhaps as many as 800 whites were killed according to Abraham Lincoln’s address to Congress.
But Lincoln sent General John Pope with several hastily formed or reallocated infantry regiments to quell the violence, and after the Dakota were outnumbered at overwhelmed at the Battle of Big Lake on September 23rd, 1862, they surrendered.
Hundreds of Dakota were jailed, 303 were sentenced to death after five minute trials in which they had no representation, and reportedly did not understand the proceedings against them.
Lincoln reviewed the trial records personally and commuted many of the death sentences. But in the largest mass execution in America’s bloody history of capital punishment, 38 Dakota warriors were hanged in Mankato, Minnesota on December 26th, 1862.
Little Crow escaped to Canada for a time, but returned here, in summer of 1863, to what is now Hutchinson where he was shot to death in front of his son while picking berries by the river. His son was imprisoned. Little Crow’s body was scalped and mutilated. His scalp and skull and other bones were put on display in the state capitol in St. Paul until 1971, when they were reburied in South Dakota by his descendants.
Today, in a hard to find unmarked gallery in the state capitol, a traveling display of Broken Treaties, including some of the original and official documents, organized by the Smithsonian Institute can be found by those persistent enough to locate it.
Broken yes, but not forgotten. They remain the supreme law of the land, according to Article 6 of the US Constitution. Tell that to Little Crow.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s