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Presenter Information

Jordan Bergstrom

Location

SURC Room 271

Start Date

15-5-2014

End Date

15-5-2014

Keywords

Sioux, Uprising, War

Abstract

The Sioux Nations of Minnesota and the Dakotas were pushed to the brink of collapse. Having been forced onto a small tract of land in southern Minnesota, the Sioux had been promised $1.4 million for their lands, as well as food and supplies. The Federal government, a year into the Civil War, did not live up to the promises it had made to the Sioux. By 1862 the tribes were near death from starvation. When Andrew J. Myrick, a trader in the area, was asked for food he said, "So far as I am concerned, let them eat grass, or their own dung." (His body was later found with grass stuffed down his throat and filling his mouth.) The Sioux uprising, led by Little Crow, began shortly after. I argue here that the Sioux uprising was not treated as a war in the media, but rather as acts of terror and barbarity. In part because the media clouded the line between warrior and terrorist, the government and the courts created a new category for the Sioux rebels, treating them not as soldiers per se but as "enemy combatants" (to use a modern term). This blurring led to the miscarriage of justice, when the government executed 38 Dakota warriors in a single day (the single largest mass-execution in American history) and helped set a precedent for more recent treatment of soldiers as enemy combatants. (Editor’s Note: This presentation may contain adult themes, content, or imagery.)

Faculty Mentor(s)

Herman, Daniel

Additional Mentoring Department

History

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May 15th, 8:10 AM May 15th, 8:30 AM

Let Them Eat Grass: The Media and the Sioux Uprising of 1862

SURC Room 271

The Sioux Nations of Minnesota and the Dakotas were pushed to the brink of collapse. Having been forced onto a small tract of land in southern Minnesota, the Sioux had been promised $1.4 million for their lands, as well as food and supplies. The Federal government, a year into the Civil War, did not live up to the promises it had made to the Sioux. By 1862 the tribes were near death from starvation. When Andrew J. Myrick, a trader in the area, was asked for food he said, "So far as I am concerned, let them eat grass, or their own dung." (His body was later found with grass stuffed down his throat and filling his mouth.) The Sioux uprising, led by Little Crow, began shortly after. I argue here that the Sioux uprising was not treated as a war in the media, but rather as acts of terror and barbarity. In part because the media clouded the line between warrior and terrorist, the government and the courts created a new category for the Sioux rebels, treating them not as soldiers per se but as "enemy combatants" (to use a modern term). This blurring led to the miscarriage of justice, when the government executed 38 Dakota warriors in a single day (the single largest mass-execution in American history) and helped set a precedent for more recent treatment of soldiers as enemy combatants. (Editor’s Note: This presentation may contain adult themes, content, or imagery.)