Little Paul
Christian Leader of the Dakota Peace Party


Mark Diedrich

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Little Paul



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Little Paul

Christian Leader of the Dakota Peace Party

Copyright © Mark F. Diedrich, 2010

Little Paul and the Middle Ground
Needless to say, he was a physical, full-blooded Dakota; yet, by accepting Christianity he felt that he was psychologically a “white man.” To the Dakota way of thinking, religion was tied to your identity, and your identity was tied to your way of life. If you adhered to the Dakota system, you were a Dakota. If you adhered to Christianity, then you were white. But while the Dakota thought this way, the whites surely did not.



Chapter Two:
The Coming of the Missionaries

Indeed, Williamson and Riggs had come to the Dakota mentally saturated with ethnocentric views and Calvinistic-based Presbyterian notions. They insisted that in addition to receiving the gospel and becoming Christians the Dakota must learn to live like white men, that is, they should learn farming and husbandry and leave off hunting and warring. They promoted nothing less than a radical, external, cultural change. [...]

Farming, or working like a white man, was not only against Dakota culture, but against their spiritual beliefs. Dakota males were raised to be life-takers: They were hunters and warriors because that is what pleased the spiritual powers, particularly Wakinyan, and Takuskanskan (That which has Much Movement) who was thought to be delighted with the work of war parties. The men considered that if they did not keep these prescribed occupations, the spirit powers would be offended and destroy them. Williamson learned very early on that to ask Dakota males to throw away their mystery potency sacks and go to work like white men was one of the greatest insults he could offer them.



Chapter Four:
The Hazelwood Republic

Meanwhile, a new controversy began brewing during the winter of 1855/56. The traders, including Joe Brown, Nathan and Andrew Myrick, and Forbes, came up with an idea to secure more Dakota money to pay off real and supposed debts. They began to circulate a paper which said that the Dakota wanted to make a new treaty, by which they would cede their reservation lands and receive all of their fifty years’ worth of annuities and then pay off the traders’ claims. It was rumored that they gave Wapahasha $2,000 to sign the paper. Wapahasha later told Murphy that the traders asked him to sign a paper by which he would be taken to Washington to see the Great Father, so that he might ask if $5,000 from the education fund could be allocated to his people.

Chapter Seven:
Agent Brown and the Growing Factionalism

Note (Hal’s): The following is part of a collection about the causes of the 1862 Dakota War. The whole set may be read in sequence by following links where indicated.

— end note

What chance did the Dakota have of blocking ratification of the treaty when they were coerced into signing it in the first place? The absurdity of the farce was topped off a few years later when government officials declared that the sale had been made to satisfy the Dakota when they “realized that there were more lands on the reservation than they needed,” and had “proposed to retain only those on the south side of the Minnesota.”

Compare to:

1066 and All That

Formerly, men like Little Paul and Wanbdiokiye became farmers and Christians of their own accord, and treaty benefits were shared equally. Now, Brown wanted to force the rest to become farmers using his unfair policies as a prod. His new doctrine, driven by his savior-complex, and the evangelical fervor of the missionaries, was like a knife, severing the Dakota body into two, producing the “farmer” or white faction and the “blanket” or traditional faction. Thus, he and Cullen applied $12,000 to the farmers, offering each of them two outfits of clothing, a yoke of oxen, and a plow. As the traditionalists did not receive anything in reciprocal fashion, they could not help but feel disenfranchised.

Note (Hal’s): This concludes the collection of readings on causes of the 1862 Dakota War.

— end note

Chapter Eight:
The Blunders of Galbraith and the Indian Department
When Galbraith made a token statement, urging them to remain at peace with the Ojibway, Other Day got up and said that he had been told this since he was a boy. “Now,” he said, inferring white hypocrisy, “we hear our Great Father at Washington is fighting his own children.”

text checked (see note) Jul 2010

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