Government seizes land and guns, mass executions


The Dakota Indians were the largest division of the Sioux who lived in the regions that are now the states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, South and North Dakota, Nebraska, and parts of Canada.


In August 1825, the boundary lines had been drawn among the various tribes in the northwest, which were again redefined by a treaty signed on Sept. 17, 1851.

The United States agreed to financially compensate the Indian tribes in exchange for the surrendering of roughly 24 million acres of hunting grounds—on which the government prohibited the Indians from hunting.

However, the American government didn’t keep its end of the agreement. As a result, the Dakotas suffered widespread hardship and starvation. Agents required to pay them were either late or tried to cheat them from receiving the money owed to them. And because government agents wouldn’t pay local storeowners, the storeowners refused to release food supplies to the Indians.

(Allegedly, Congress reportedly reallocated the money owed to the Dakotas and northwest tribes to fund First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln’s redecoration of the White House.)

On December 10, 1862, 38 Dakota warriors rode by horseback, 330 miles through snow, from Lower Brule, South Dakota to Mankato, Minnesota. They led others in a fight against a federal government that had first occupied their land, next disarmed them, and later broke its commitment to financially compensate them for their land.

In response to their uprising, President Abraham Lincoln dispatched General John Pope to Minnesota. Pope wrote of his mission: “It is my purpose utterly to exterminate the Sioux if I have the power to do so.”

On December 26, 1862, 38 Dakota Native American Indian warriors were hung from a single scaffold in Mankato, Minnesota. This was the largest one-day execution in American history.



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