Had the tables been turned?

Mayor Beussman talks about peoples' varying reactions during and after the U.S.-Dakota War.

Audio Chapters

RB: If this is true that it did happen, that a woman poured boiling water over another woman…

DL: A 4-year-old.

RB: Oh, a 4-year-old child. (big sigh) Here again, did that mother lose her 4-year-old or 5-year-old child? The settlers; did she lose somebody? What prompted this woman to do that? Something. Something set this woman off. Was she right? Probably not, but I can’t tell you that, because again, a mother bear, a tiger, whatever, will protect and will lash out. Again, was it right? No. There are conflicting stories about where the Natives were marched as they were going to, wherever it was- Mankato or wherever they were being herded. There are conflicting stories that they didn’t even come close to New Ulm, and there are stories that they went right through downtown New Ulm. If they did go right through New Ulm, that was the most stupid thing that our leaders could have done.

DL: Maybe it was intentional.

RB: And maybe it was intentional, to stir up more trouble. Don’t know. And again, I don’t know how I would feel if someone broke into my house tonight and raped my wife. I don’t know how I’d react tomorrow or next week if I see that person.

DL: Now, this is the point at which I wish I understood Dakota culture better, but from what I understand, rape/sexual assault was not an issue.

RB: Well, I’m just talking about for me- that’s the word that I used if something happened to my wife. I’m talking about me and what my response would be to the person who did that. I don’t know. If my granddaughter would lose her life because someone drove by and was firing a gun and she happened to be hit, and if I saw that person walking down the street right now, I could not tell you what my response would be. Hopefully I would be able to control my anger, but I’m looking you square in the face and telling you that I don’t know if I could control my anger. That’s my little granddaughter, that’s the love of my life. And my wife would probably be right alongside of me because she’s respectful to us. So for me to look back at this settler who probably had to flee and leave her home, maybe lost her child and then finally came back to New Ulm and all of a sudden the Natives are walking by, being herded by or being driven by, or however they were brought, whether they were in chains, or however they were handled, had the tables been turned? Had the soldiers been paraded through a Dakota camp? What would the response be?

Oral History- Interview | Narrator Robert Beussman Interviewer Deborah Locke made in New Ulm, MN | Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. Had the tables been turned? March 20, 2019. http://www.usdakotawar.org/node/998

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