Who wouldn’t defend what was theirs?

Ms. Geshick reflects on the U.S.-Dakota War and the importance of her spirituality when it comes to remembering the past.

Audio Chapters

DL: What’s your opinion of the war?

SG: Oh gosh. You know, our men are groomed for protection, and so are our women; our women will kill to protect their young. Our men will, too- not that they’re going to go out and kill whatever. We have a story about this woman that was protecting her young child from a bear. And they always say that our women can be fierce as a grizzly when it comes to protecting their young. And our men are groomed as protectors for all our people. Oh, I could go into a lot of stuff. I see untruthfulness on the part of the non-Native people that were in the war. You know, we are a peaceful people, we are a very spiritual people, and when we see that something is done wrong to us, who wouldn’t defend what was theirs? We’re not a people that are going to lay down when somebody wants something. We also, at the same time, share, and give freely of what we have. But I see it as we were taken advantage of. You know, we were willing to share anything that we had, but when they made promises and we see that they weren’t keeping theirs; what are you going to do? That’s why our men were warriors; they’re going to stand up and protect what was rightfully ours.

DL: What do you do with this history as a Dakota woman today? Do you leave it in the past? Do you bring it into the present? How much energy do you give to it as you go about your daily life? Do you let that anger burn today, because that’s a good thing to do to keep that alive, or do you try to look to the future? How do you live with the past?

SG: You know, I’m not angry about- it’s something that happened, you can’t bring it back. You accept; you don’t blame. And like I said, in every tragedy you look for that lesson to be learned- from anything that happens in your life that’s negative. And I do things today and every day. I’ll tell anybody who will listen to me about who we are as Dakota people to better understand we’re not how they stereotype us. We are a peaceful people and very resilient. We bounce back from anything. And I live in close connection with the Creator; pray every day, keep that constant connection.

DL: Your sister is Lillian Wilson. She too, is a prayerful person.

SG: I can’t imagine life without prayer. Because I always teach my grandchildren. I only have one grandchild, but I always teach the young ones to pray, even if you say ‘all my relatives.’ You say it to keep that constant connection between you and the Creator. If you don’t have that, look at all the things coming at you; all the negativity coming at you. You’re going to be argumentative; you’re going to live a chaotic life. But when you have that connection, things can be thrown at you and you just take it in stride. But people don’t realize that your life is laid out already. I have a book, it’s called Words of Wisdom. Frank Fools Crow said you have to accept His way of doing things because you can’t change it; it’s already laid out, your path. So you have to accept His way, the Creator’s way of doing things. And you ask in your daily prayers to understand and accept the Creator’s way of doing things.

Oral History- Interview | Narrator Sandee Geshick Interviewer Deborah Locke made at the Minnesota History Center, St. Paul, MN | Friday, June 10, 2011

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. Who wouldn’t defend what was theirs? September 17, 2019. http://www.usdakotawar.org/node/1042

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