Hear how the events of 1862 shaped Federal policies towards Native peoples.
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Resource links mentioned in presentation: https://www.deschuteslibrary.org/files/uploads/Resources%20for%20Minnesota.pdf
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This talk will focus on the events of 1862 and their aftermath: how they have shaped American policies towards Native peoples, and how whether the approach has been annihilation or assimilation, the goal has always been genocidal.
By late summer 1862, the Dakota were on the brink of starvation. Cordoned off to a fraction of their original lands, late annuity payments and a bad harvest left the Dakota with few options. When a small hunting band murdered a family in Acton, Minnesota the decision was made to push the white Europeans out of their land. What followed was a six-week "war" with atrocities committed on both sides. The war itself ended with sham trials and the largest mass execution in American history. The Dakota were forcibly removed from Minnesota, banned from the state via an act of Congress in 1863, and spread throughout the upper Midwest and Canada.
What was a brief conflict in the midst of the American Civil War would have a dramatic impact on the relationship between Native peoples and the Federal government. It ushered in new policies of removal and annihilation. While American policy towards its Native neighbors has always been combative, the great era of the Plains Wars, typified by the cowboy and Indians began in the aftermath of 1862. Not until 1876 and the embarrassing defeat of Custer's Army at the Battle of Little Bighorn did these policies begin to move away from annihilation to assimilation with the rise of the boarding schools and other coercive means meant to break Native identity.
Joe Eggers is the Assistant Director of the Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota. He has been involved in several projects through the Center that explores Minnesota's memory of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 and its aftermath, including several lesson plans aimed at K-12 educators.