Akicita

Mr. Ross talks about Wood Lake, a battle site in the U.S.-Dakota War, and what it means to be an akicita.

Things to think about: 

How can someone be an akicita today?

Audio Chapters

Wood Lake – unusual set of circumstances, an important battle for healing the friendlies. One thing that is not looked at either, maybe a few Dakota do, is if the warriors had not fought, how many people would have been able to escape to Canada or the far places that they ended up? The warriors were defending a great deal at Wood Lake because their families were close. That’s where Mazomani was wounded. You know he’s buried not too far from here. His family was there. He was looking for a peaceful solution as was his brother but he was killed for his efforts. The 14 to 20-some warriors that are buried out there, they were fighting for the lives of all their people – friendly or unfriendly. They fought a battle, thought they could win, probably could have except for unfortunate circumstance. But they would have fought whether or not they had a chance of winning. They were fighting for the existence of a people even if some of the people disagreed with them. A warrior’s life is to fight for the people, protect them, hunt for them, provide whatever, police. So their life ended the same way as it began. They began a life that led to them to be akicita. Their life ended being akicita. Whether or not anybody has respect for the Dakota warriors, and what they fought, has really no bearing from my standpoint because their spirits were probably more pure than anyone else’s in what they were trying to do.

DL: What does Akicita mean?

DR: Today it is translated as a warrior but it means a lot more. If they weren’t being warriors, they were the policemen of the village- the societies. There were many societies under an akicita. Sometimes they were hunters. Sometimes they were policemen. Sometimes they were scouts. They were the ones that went ahead of the people to make sure the path was clear. Then sometimes they were the ones that went to battle. But being a warrior was only a small part of being an akicita. I don’t know if I could explain an akicita. It kind of translates as “looks after them or looks out over them.” That’s what an akicita did.

DL: Are you an akicita?

DR: In today’s sense of the word? No. In the old sense of the word, I have been for a long, long time.

Oral History- Interview | Narrator Dallas Ross Interviewer Deborah Locke made at Granite Falls, Upper Sioux Community, MN | Sunday, May 1, 2011

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. Akicita June 26, 2019. http://www.usdakotawar.org/node/1103

Viewpoints: All viewpoints expressed on this website are those of the contributors, and are not representative of the Minnesota Historical Society.