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Forgotten or Unmentioned Facts are Troubling
on October 25, 2012
This is a pretty cool book in many ways, and I wish I could give it more stars, maybe 4, but there is something really missing in it that bothers me, which is why I have to give it only 2. I always applaud when Indian people assert their histories in the face of cultural genocide, and I applaud our Sioux brothers and sisters care for the land in Minnesota. I have only honor and applause for their efforts to protect the sacred places and burials. That's the good side of the book, which is why I give it two stars instead of only one. I was a friend of Maria Pearson and her work, although we disagreed on some things. I still miss her a lot.
I do not wish to offend our friends, but I would not be true to our Ioway ancestors if I did not say something, for we have a history and tradition of that place too. As a member of the Ioway tribe, I unfortunately find some of this book contradicts not only our Ioway history and traditions, it also ignores many established historic records and the archaeological evidence.
Our traditions hold that our Iowa and Otoe peoples were the first people in southeastern Minnesota, from at least A.D. 900 to 1700, from the maps and oral testimonies by our Ioway elders No Heart and Waw-no-que-skoona, documented in the 1830s and 1840s. Our Sioux brothers and sisters at that time were further north, towards Mille Lacs, until the late 1600s. Until that time, we had been friends and allies. We have stories about that. In fact, when the French came to the area looking to establish trading posts in the 1680s, the Sioux told them that the Minnesota River, Blue Earth area, and so on, was the land of the Iowas (ah-yo-way: spelled Ayoes, Ayavois, or pa-xo-che: spelled Paotet, etc.). We called ourselves Baxoje, and we had many settlements in the Lake Pepin-Red Wing area as well, down into northeast Iowa. It's like how outsiders use the word "Sioux", but the Sioux use Dakota or Nakota or Lakota themselves.
It seems to have been that the Dakota were being pushed south by the Ojibwa out of the Mille Lacs area, in part because of population growth and in part because the Ojibwa were getting pushed themselves from the east, due to the Beaver Wars of the Iroquois and Huron in Canada. The Ojibwa were squeezed between the Iroquois in the east and the Dakota in the west ("Sioux" comes from an Ojibwa word). Because of this, the Sioux pushed us south from our lands along the Minnesota River and southern Minnesota (including Lake Pepin, Twin Cities, Pipestone, Jeffers, etc.) We had lived there since time immemorial. The Dakota were north of there. We were friendly up until about 1700. That was told even by Dakota back in those days, such as Black Tomahawk, who told about the war in which we were defeated by the Sioux and the remains of our lodges were there to be seen.
The Ioway were fewer than the Sioux and we lost and moved southwest, out of Minnesota and northeastern Iowa, in about 1700. As I said earlier, this was all documented in the 1840s maps of No Heart and Waw-no-que-skoona.
In addition, this is all documented in the histories and maps of the French traders Perrot, Accault, and others. Finally, the Ioway and Otoe are firmly established to be the descendants of the Oneota archaeological culture which inhabited all that area from A.D. 900 to 1700, and our clans developed from the Woodland people who made the Woodland mounds, just like our brothers the Dakotas and other tribes up until that time. The Dakota were not descended from the Oneota, but from the Psinomani people, further north.
Because we were squeezed in by Euroamerican settlements and the decline of buffalo and other game, the Sioux (both Dakota as well as Yankton) and the Ioway fought without mercy. That was how things were from about 1700 until 1840 or so, when a Sioux chief and an Ioway chief killed each other. Having lost two of our best leaders, we all realized our folly and made peace at last. Today, the Dakota and Ioway are friends. In fact, although I am enrolled Ioway, some of my ancestors were Sioux too. Most of us have blood from many different tribes because of trading and intermarriage when making friends and adoption of each other as relatives. It's like how the British and the U.S. fought in the Revolution, or the U.S. fought Japan and Germany, yet all are now friends. That's history too.
Now of course, everybody has their own version of history. In that case, you have to look at ALL the evidence, the oral traditions and oral history, the written records and maps, and the archaeological cultures, IF you want to know about those things.
AFTER 1700, the Dakota took over southern Minnesota including the Minnesota River country as well as northern Iowa, all the way until the unfortunate events of 1856-1862 when they conflicted with the U.S. and lost. First we lost to them by 1700, and then they lost to the Big Knives (the Americans) by 1863. Thus is history made and told by those who win.
Again, I wish to congratulate our Sioux brothers and sisters for fighting for their land and lives, and becoming the new caretakers of those sacred places and our ancestral burials. The Dakota added a beautiful new layer of culture and history there that cannot be denied, and indeed should be celebrated. I hope they succeed in saving the land from self-interest and greed for money that is destroying it, whether the greed is that of white man or Indian. Aho.