“We did this in a manner that was good. Why is this happening to us?"

Mr. Ross talks about how broken treaties were viewed through Dakota eyes.

Things to think about: 

Are agreements made today between cultural groups that are viewed differently by each party involved?

Audio Chapters

DL: What happened at Fort Snelling at that camp?

DR: An atrocity.

DL: Tell us more.

DR: It was something that maybe was intended to happen by the creator but probably not. The white people wanted something. That’s why we didn’t become humans for so long [in the eyes of non-Indians). That’s what I believe. As long as we stayed savages, then it would be okay to do the things that were happening. And so the things like Fort Snelling were less about humanity [and more about] managing something savage. From that point of view, that’s how we were looked at: To sooth the moral dilemma that something like that brings for another group of people. They didn’t really want to do anything bad to a human being so they kept us somewhat less than that. So that hurt them as well as us Dakota. I told a group of people this at Augustana [College]. They asked me one time, “What is the most significant impact the treaties had on the Dakota?” That’s one of them – Fort Snelling but not for the reason that you think. This goes back into Dakota life. Every time a treaty was signed, the Dakota would do it through their pipe, their sacred pipe. Someplace in that treaty making process that pipe was there for the Dakota. The Dakota believed that when you used the sacred pipe, everything was going to be as it was said because that’s what is required by the Creator through those sacred things. The Dakotas endeavored to keep their words because they did it through that pipe. Unfortunately, the other people didn’t believe in the pipe so they could easily break their word and do something different. All the way from the battles to Fort Snelling, part of the Dakota were still trying to keep their word because of that pipe. So the atrocity is not so much singly the suffering. It so much shook the basis of Dakota prayer that they would say, “But we did this in a manner that was good. Why is this happening to us? We prayed before we did it. We smoked the pipe when we were done. Why are these things happening?” So it not only hurt the other people because they’re shaping a group of people into something that would suit them and kind of relieve their moral dilemma but also shook the faith of a whole group of people because their prayers came to such a bad end.

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. “We did this in a manner that was good. Why is this happening to us?" August 20, 2019. http://www.usdakotawar.org/node/1107

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