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Great Sioux Uprising

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In the mid 1800s native Americans in Minnesota rose together to fight oppression from the American Government. The Sioux uprising is well documented, but what is less known is the conditions the Indians suffered that would force them to war. By examining a speech given by the influential Indian leader Little Crow the desperation of the Indian nation begins to show.

By August 1862 the Mdewakanton Indians were starving because of deforestation, poor crops, and late payments from the Bureau of Indian affairs (Brown 1992). Having sold their land to the United States in exchange for food, money, and goods the Indians had given away the land they needed to survive. The United States further compounded the Indians loss by removing much of the compensation that Little Crow had negotiated from treaties during ratification. To make matters worse the United States was often late with payments to the Indians, and if the Indians had debt with a trader, the government would pay the trader instead of the Indian. Indian leaders pleaded for food from the Lower Sioux Agency, which had a warehouse overflowing with stored goods, but were denied. One store owner who was asked to help support the Indians obtain food replied “So far as I'm concerned, if they are hungry, let them eat grass or their own dung." (Brown 1992).

On August 17, 1862 four young Indian braves were stealing a chicken egg from a white settler when one brave stated they should not steal from the white men. That brave was called a coward, and so he said he would go into the house of the white man and shoot him dead. All four braves attacked the settler home and killed three men and two women. The braves returned to their camp and told sympathetic warriors what had happened. Many of the tribes braves wanted to go to war when they heard what had happened. They turned to Little Crow for support, but he gave them truth. Little Crow was influential in that he had negotiated and signed the treaties in 1851 between the...