Lori Sturdevant: In recognition of history, a move to the future

  • Article by: LORI STURDEVANT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 7, 2012 - 5:01 PM

An important exhibit marks the anniversary of the U.S.-Dakota War.

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jarlmnJul. 7, 12 6:09 PM

Historians become nothing more than revisionist stooges whenever they apply the zeitgeist and morals of the present day to our past. This grievous error is known as 'presentism'. That the Dakota had reason for acting-out, does not excuse them from a massive bout of what we would readily today recognize as war crimes. Countless numbers of unarmed and peaceful white settlers were wantonly butchered and Dakota warriors openly boasted about how easy this genocide was. Yes, 38 were indeed hanged. But hundreds more they were guilty of heinous acts escaped capture and prosecution. And yes, squalid though is was, the so-called concentration camp actually protected the surrendered Dakota from angry retribution. Such was the tenor of the times. In their political-correct wont to bring 'closure' to this historical event, organizers should be strongly cautioned to not make the Dakota look like mere victims.

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graydoJul. 7, 12 6:11 PM

Reconciliation with America's enemies was easier after Gettysburg. When the Confederates invaded Pennsylvania they didn't torture babies, rape women and dismember all parties. They fought cleanly and got their behinds kicked and accepted it. Really none of that applies to the Sioux uprising. My ancestors survived the Uprising but it wasn't an honorable enemy that tried to kill them on the battlefield. The failure to come to terms with the atrocities by modern Lakota don't leave me in the hugging mood, personally.

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gregdeereJul. 7, 12 6:39 PM

The myth that American was a peaceful place before white people arrived is a crock. Native American tribes were in a constant state of war against each other. They killed tortured and even kidnapped members of other tribes. The very well know Aztec tribes of present day Mexico would spend days using prisoners for human sacrifices.

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venger00Jul. 7, 12 7:22 PM

My favorite trivia bit in the south metro is that our favorite casino Little Six is named after Chief Shakopee III who was executed for self admitted murder of women and children and sentenced at Fort Snelling. Think about that when you throw down some chips at Mystic Lake!

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lizstribJul. 7, 12 7:29 PM

I am getting to know a few indigenous people here, and I am hearing the smallest bit of their stories, including the Dakota perspective and the longer story behind why their people struck out against the White settlers. Lori Sturdevant's story doesn't cover the pieces I've been hearing about, which concerns me. And having heard Dean Urdahl speak once, what would impress me more would be if he got off his soapbox about his White ancestors and his books and instead encouraged more White people to listen with compassion and humility to what our Dakota brothers and sisters are telling us. We can't hear the whole truth if we hold on so tightly to what White historians tell us, even if they have good intentions. On a related note: When the documentary "Dakota 38" comes to the Twin Cities again this fall, put aside the time to view it--or consider setting up a screening wherever you are. And be ready to be shown a new perspective of this local piece of history.

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wrongwayJul. 7, 12 7:50 PM

The North Dakota Fighting Sioux nickname. I wonder if the native americans who fought in the Big Sioux Uprising would find it offensive. I believe they would feel honored.

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dlw2250Jul. 7, 12 8:23 PM

I am repulsed by these comments. If you have things to add about the Sioux Uprising of 1862, then please say so. I will be waiting.

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stanhkJul. 8, 1212:47 AM

@jarlmn Wow, what amazingly brilliant insight. Historians are revisionist stooges via the grievous error of presentism. And yet you, the non-stooge accuse the Dakota of war crimes... based upon today's standards. Pot meet kettle. You conveniently ignore over 200 years of wanton hatred and slaughter directed at a an indigenous population for the sole purpose of territorial lust. And then, promote an accusation of genocide predicated on a singular incident at "your" benchmark event in time? Really? Since you seem to own some historical relevance the rest of us can only grasp at. Please explain how the slaughtering of villages of unarmed and peaceful natives, by those benign and oh so benevolent settlers of yours, is somehow acceptable. And yet the reverse is such a heinous war crime. Oh, wait... how foolish of me to apply such a presentistic point of view... Back in the day , those villages of natives, were just squalid little encampments populated by packs of rapacious children and their promiscuous cur Mothers. The Dakota paid handsomely for this crime... 38 then, and a truly uncountable number since. Denying the recidivistic behavior of the settlers as they marched across this continent, and its effect on the native population ignores the greater "tenor" of this period in history. We cannot undo the past... but at least acknowledge the whole tragedy.

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graydoJul. 8, 12 6:43 AM

The Dakota need to listen with humility and accept the horror of what their ancestors did. No more denial. Then a real dialogue can take place.

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kd5757Jul. 8, 12 7:23 AM

I agree with your comment stanhk. I read something once in one of Kurt Vonnegut's stories that has always stuck with me. Vonnegut wrote that it wasn't the white man's superiority in guns and technology that defeated the Native Americans, but rather the chief weapon was the capacity to astonish. The Native Americans could not believe, until it was much too late, how heartless and greedy the white man was.

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