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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


December 14, 2002 - Issue 76


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The Twins - Part 3 of 3

by Timm Severud (Ondamitag)
Chief Nenaangebi left the payment of 1855 at La Pointe, returned to the Rice Lake Region, the rice was finished and they moved into their deer hunting camps. He would not live long enough for the treaty to burn his breast. In Benjamin G. Armstrong's Early Life Among the Indians (published in 1892 and at the end of Chapter 13) he picks up the story of what happened next:

"While writing about chiefs and their character it may not be amiss to give the reader a short story of a chief's daughter in battle, where she proved as good a warrior as many of the sterner sex. In the 1850's there lived in the vicinity of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, a band of Indians numbering about 200. They were headed by a chief named Na-nong-ga-bee. This chief, with about seventy of his people came to La Pointe to attend the treaty of 1854. After a treaty payment was concluded he started home with his people, the route being through heavy forests and the trail one which was little used. When they had reached a spot a south of the Namekagon River and near a place called Beck-qua-ah-wong they were surprised by a band of Sioux who were on the warpath and then in ambush, where a few Chippewas were killed, including the old chief and his oldest son, the trail being a narrow one only one could pass at a time, true Indian file. This made their line quite long as they were not trying to keep bunched, not expecting or having any thought of being attacked by their life long enemy. The chief, his son and daughter were in the lead and the old man and his son were the first to fall, as the Sioux had of course picked them out for slaughter and they were killed before they dropped their packs or were ready for war. The old chief had just brought the gun to his face to shoot when a ball struck him square in the forehead. As he fell, his daughter fell beside him and feigned death. At the firing Na-nong-ga-bee's Band swung out of the trail to strike the flanks of the Sioux and get behind them to cut off their retreat, should they press forward or make a retreat, but that was not the Sioux intention. There was not a great number of them and their tactic was to surprise the band, get as many scalps as they could and get out of the way, knowing that it would be but the work of a few moments, when they would be encircled by the Chippewas. The girl lay motionless until she perceived that the Sioux would not come down on them en-masse, when she raised her father's loaded gun and killed a warrior who was running to get her father's scalp, thus knowing she had killed the slayer of her father, as no Indian would come for a scalp he had not earned himself. The Sioux were now on the retreat and their flank and rear were being threatened, the girl picked up her father's ammunition pouch, loaded the rifle, and started in pursuit. Stopping at the body of her dead Sioux she lifted the scalp and tucked it under her belt. She continued the chase with the men of her band, and it was two days before they returned to the women and children, whom they had left on the trail, and when the brave little heroine returned she had added two scalps to the one she started with. She is now living, or was, but a few years ago, near Rice Lake, Wisconsin, the wife of Edward Dingley, who served in the war of rebellion from the time of the first draft of soldiers to the end of the war. She became his wife in 1857, and lived with him until he went into the service, and at this time had one child, a boy. A short time after he went to the war news came that all the party that had left Bayfield at the time he did as substitutes had been killed in battle, and a year or so after, his wife, hearing nothing from him, and believing him dead, married again. At the end of the war Dingley came back and I saw him at Bayfield and told him everyone had supposed him dead and that his wife had married another man. He was very sorry to hear this news and said he would go and see her, and if she preferred the second man she could stay with him, but that he should take the boy. A few years ago I had occasion to stop over night with them. And had a long talk over the two marriages. She told me the circumstances that had let her to the second marriage. She thought Dingley dead, and her father and brother being dead, she had no one to look after her support, or otherwise she would not have done so. She related the related the pursuit of the Sioux at the time of her father's death with much tribal pride, and the satisfaction she felt at revenging herself upon the murder of her father and kinsmen. She gave me the particulars of getting the last two scalps that she secured in the eventful chase. The first she raised only a short distance from her place of starting; a warrior she espied skulking behind a tree presumably watching for some one other of her friends that was approaching. The other she did not get until the second day out when she discovered a Sioux crossing a river. She said: "The good luck that had followed me since I raised my father's rifle did not now desert me," for her shot had proved a good one and she soon had his dripping scalp at her belt although she had to wade the river after it."

This ambush by the Dakota was lead by Nenangebi's own twin brother Shakopee. Among the scalps Hanging Cloud took was one of her own cousins, for the first scalp she took was one of Shakopee's sons. It seems that when the peace was lost this family would bleed on both sides of the St. Croix River.

Chief Nenaangebi's wife, Niguio, escaped the attack, but died soon after. They had three surviving son's Wabashish, John and Joe White; and seven daughters Maggie White, Chingway, Poskin (Mary Goose - Mrs. Andrew Tainter), Minotagas, Wabikwe, Hanging Cloud (Mrs. Edward Dingley) and Ashaweia (Montanice (Montanis) Couvillion Bracklin Barker).

Wabashish, the eldest son, succeeded his father as Chief and while not popular with the whites, as his father had been, seemed to get along quite well with his own people, until bad blood developed between himself and an Indian named Bedud and his two sons. In a quarrel at the camp on Long Lake in the fall of 1870, Bedud stabbed and killed Wabashish. Bedud had been drinking. John, brother of Wabashish, was working in a logging camp of Knapp, Stout & Co. on the east shore of Red Cedar Lake, when he heard the news. He hastened to Long Lake, and in spite advise to throw away a bottle of liquor and bide his time, he rushed to the hut of Bedud, and as he lifted the flap was shot through the chest. Staggering into a cabin, he shouted, "I am dying", and fell over dead.

Joe, the now last surviving son of the Chief Nenaangebi and Niguio became tribal leader and wisely bided his time for revenge. Bedud and his sons made their way to the St. Croix valley. In the fall of 1882 a great tribal gathering was held Lac Courte Oreilles, which Bedud attended. After the powwow and as Bedud was leaving, single file with five companions, he was shot from ambush. Things went along tranquilly until 1894, when Joe was shot and killed by a game warden near the old campgrounds on Long Lake, when he and a party of his friends were hunting deer out of season in Washburn County in a denial of treaty rights. At the trial, held in Shell Lake, 46 witnesses were called and after two weeks the game warden was acquitted. Thus passed the last son of the old chief.

Chief Nenaangebi is buried near the high hill at Prairie Farm and there is a Historical Society marker nearby. Niguio was buried near the west bank of the Red Cedar River on the north end of the City of Rice Lake within a few feet of the edge of highway 48. A portrait of Chief Nenaangebi hung in the Wisconsin Historical Society Library in Madison according to a letter to his grandson, Thomas Jefferson Bracklin from the society in 1933.

Chief Shakopee lived to see his world totally changed having signed the Treaty of Mendota on August 5, 1851 he ceded his claim to lands in what is today southeastern Minnesota and moved onto a reservation in southwestern Minnesota along the Minnesota River. With the coming of the Civil War annuity payments were late and rumors were circulated that payments, if they will be made at all, would not be in the customary gold, but in greenbacks because of the ongoing Civil War.

During the summer of 1862 Shakopee died and starvation was a contributing factor to his death. Upon his death another his sons Eatoka (Another Language) took his over as chief and the leadership of the Dakota migrated to Little Crow. Eatoka took on the name of his father Shakopee and is usually referred to as Little Six.

Many feel that if Old Shakopee had lived what happened next would not have occurred, but who are we to know this?

The Dakota planned to demand that future annuity payments be made directly to them, rather than through traders. Traders, learning of plan, refused to sell provisions on credit, despite widespread hunger and starvation on the reservation. At a meeting called by Indian Agent Thomas Galbraith to resolve the impasse, Andrew Myrick, spokesman for the traders, said: "So far as I am concerned, if they are hungry, let them eat grass."

In his book Early Life Among the Indians in Chapter 3, Benjamin G. Armstrong describes the cause of this uprising.

"I returned to St. Paul with the superintendent, and on the way he said there was likely to be trouble with the Sioux, as they had been waiting for their annuities a long time and were getting restless and were dissatisfied, and he would like to have me go with him to New Ulm, the Sioux Agency, which I did. We found there was much restlessness among the Indians and equally as much among the white traders. I found parties the first night I was there among the Sioux who spoke the Chippewa tongue, and talked with them. I found out the feeling that prevailed among the people. I talked with Bill Taylor, a half-breed Negro, who made a business of attending Indian payments for the purpose of gambling, and as he spoke the Sioux language. He told me what the Indians and Traders were saying. The traders were continually telling the Indians to receive nothing but coin in payment. I heard at one or two other trading posts the same thing, and knowing that coin was a scarce article just at that time in the United States, I informed the superintendent of what was going on, and gave it as my opinion that unless they were paid right away there would be trouble. The superintendent called the chiefs together and told them that he would give them their goods annuities at once, as they were then on the ground, and then they could their women and children home, as soon as the money came he would notify them and they could come for it. They asked what kind of money it would be, to which he answered, he did not know, but whichever kind it was he would pay it to them. He could not tell what kind of money the great father had on hand, but thought it would be currency. They then demanded coin and said they would not take greenbacks, to which the superintendent replied: "I will go right back to St. Paul and if the great father has not sent the money I will borrow it and return as quickly as I can and pay you." We started at once for St. Paul, but before we arrived there we heard of the terrible uprising of the Sioux and the slaughter of people. This was the awful massacre of New Ulm, with which everybody is so familiar. I attributed the whole trouble then and still do; to the bad advice of the traders. These traders knew that all the money the Sioux drew would, in a short time would be in their hands, and as specie was at a high premium, they allowed their speculation to get the better of their judgment, the penalty of which was the forfeiture of their lives. I afterward heard that Bill Taylor was first among the dead."

On August 17, 1862, four Dakota killed five settlers near Litchfield. Councils were held among the Dakota on whether to wage war. There were deep divisions on the issue; many realizing that war would be an act of suicide, but however war was the chosen course. The next day groups of Dakota killed 44 and captured 10 Americans in attacks on the Redwood Agency and on federal troops advancing to the Agency in the hopes of suppressing the uprising. Minnesota's Governor Ramsey appoints Col. Henry Sibley to command American volunteer forces on August 19, 1862, the same day the Battle of New Ulm began and sixteen settlers were killed in Dakota attacks in and around New Ulm. The next day the Dakotas attacked Fort Ridgely, the battle lasted two days and the fort was successful in repelling the attack. On August 23, 1862 about 650 Dakota attacked New Ulm for a second time. Most buildings in the town are burned. The town was successfully defended, although most of the buildings were burned and there were 34 killed and 60 wounded. On September 23, 1862 at the battle of Wood Lake there was a decisive victory for American troops under General Pope. The war lasted for 37 days of fighting, the Dakota Conflict had claimed the lives of over 500 Americans and about 60 Dakota. The Dakota's had taken 269 American captives.

After some very quick trials 303 Dakota were convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Abraham Lincoln intervened, but in the end ordered the execution of 38 of them on December 26, 1862. This execution is the largest mass execution ever to occur on the order of the United States Government and is a low tide point in our history.

Little Six was not popular with the 'white man', like his father or Wabasha had been. He had seen his father die in neglect and had been told to 'eat grass'. During the uprising Little Six had supplied stolen horses to some of Little Crow's men, and according to some tales he did much more. He escaped for a while into Manitoba. In 1864 he was tricked into re-entering the United States captured, tried and hung.

I have reflected many times on the deeper meanings of such a story, such history and have slowly come to realize I know nothing. It seems to me that in an act of peace a family was divided and chasm filled with the bodies, blood and lives of those that had to live with it. We seem to do as strange a things making peace as we do making war. This history is for some the distant past, for others the stories of their family; in either case it is a part of the history that owns us and is well worth reflecting on.

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