Adult Reading Level

THROUGH DAKOTA EYES: NARRATIVE ACCOUNTS OF THE MINNESOTA INDIAN WAR OF 1862; Edited by Gary Anderson and Alan Woolworth; Minnesota Historical Society, 345 Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul, MN 55102, 800-647-7827; 1988, 316 pages, index, appendix of narratives, maps, black and white photos. $11.95 paperback, $24.95 hardcover. 0-87351-216-2

This book contains 36 narratives by Dakota full-bloods and mixed bloods which tell their views of causes and actions of the so-called Graeat Sioux Uprising of 1862, which led to the largest mass execution in U.S. history and the exiling of all Dakota people from Minnesota to the Dakotas and Nebraska. These narratives have been chosen from a total of 63 which are available. Selection was made to try to represent all factions among the Dakotas, as well as to provide the narratives of those few women who told of their experiences, and one Black mixed-blood. Many of the narratives were edited from some 800 pages of testimony at early 19th-century U.S. Court of Claims hearings.

The narratives are divided into 10 chapters: Causes of the Dakota War; The War Begins; Attack on the Redwood Agency; The War Bcomes General; Attack on the Yellow Medicine Agency; Gathering at Little Crow's Village; The Battles; Flight North and Emergence of the Peace Party; Wood Lake and Camp Release; The Final Days. Many of the narratives ar divided among these chapters. The editors have followed a sensible schema of putting "continued on page ___" at the ends of all sectioned narratives. The reader has the choice of reading the book "vertically" chapter-by-chapter (in roughly chronological order of the happenings narrated) or of following a single person's narrated experiences from beginning to end. It is a good idea to do both.

An introduction summarizes the history of the war, but says rather little about the treaties and actions of white traders and agents that led to it -- that's left to more conventional histories. Each chapter has a very brief introduction giving an overview of events narrated there, and how those fit into the larger picture. The book can be recommended to anyone with an interest in Dakota or Lakota -- the Plains descendants of the Dakota peoples -- history, or with the idea that by collecting mqny contemporary Native narratives, white histories can -- or could have -- been corrected. Reviewed by Paula Giese

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Native American BOOKS, text and graphics copyright Paula Giese, 1996

Last Updated: Wednesday, May 15, 1996 - 1:47:50 AM