Wednesday, July 14, 2010

NORTH COUNTRY: The Making of Minnesota

Ironically, as I have been trying in my own humble way, to show the more accurate history (not easy to do when you are depending on second-hand accounts that many times have a skewed agenda of their own, i.e., aren't very objective), a new book trying to do the same is just being published by the University of Minnesota, called North County: The Making of Minnesota...


In an article in the Winnipeg Free Press, comes this description of the book...
Parallels between the Canadian story and the American one are striking, but not surprising. In both cases Euro-centred peoples displaced the traditional occupants, using an essentially similar combination of duplicity and force.

In both cases the native occupants were sidelined by a population that overwhelmingly outnumbered them.

What is particular to the history of Minnesota is what Wingerd terms Minnesota's "civil war." Coinciding with the early part of the American Civil War, the struggle between the Dakota [Sioux] and the incoming "Americans" -- actually waves of whites, many direct from Europe -- erupted in 1862.

Wingerd spares no detail in describing the conflict. Innocent people (many who, in another war, could be called civilians) died. Outcomes of the bloody fighting included the forcible confinement on reservations of Dakotas, at least of those not executed or jailed after hasty and often unjust trials.

Years would pass, she explains, before the heritage of Hiawatha obscured the reality of the clash of cultures in which the more powerful triumphed and advanced its version of the story.

However, as Wingerd makes clear, she believes the writing of the "new history" (and by definition, more accurate history) has really just begun.
In a recent interview, the author said,
The biggest myth is that Indians in Minnesota country were hostile to whites. In fact, there were almost no incidents of Indian attacks on white people, Europeans or Americans. When rare cases did occur, it was always an individual spat and not an organized attack. The Dakota and Ojibwe went to great lengths not to drive traders away. The Dakota were frustrated with trying to get traders to establish a stable source because they needed guns. All the tribes to the East had been supplied with firearms in the early 1600s by the Dutch and English, and it didn't matter how terrific the Dakota were as warriors. Without guns, they were at a huge disadvantage in intertribal disputes.