Minnesota Indian War of 1862

Little Crow, the noted spokesman for the Mdewakanton Dakota, was coerced into war by young warriors.

TA-O-YA-TE-DU-TA is not a coward, and he is not a fool! When did he run away from his enemies? When did he leave his braves behind him on the war-path and turn back to his teepees? When he ran away from your enemies, he walked back on your trail with his face to the Ojibways and covered your backs as a she-bear covers her cubs! Is Ta-o-ya-te-du-ta without scalps? Look at his war-feathers! Behold the scalp-locks of your enemies hanging there on his lodge-poles! Do they call him a coward? Ta-o-ya-te-du-ta is not a coward, and he is not a fool. Braves, you are like little children; you know not what you are doing.

You are full of the white man’s devil-water (rum). You are like dogs in the Hot Moon when they run made and snap at their own shadows. We are only little herds of buffaloes left scattered; the great herds that once covered the prairies are no more. See! – the white men are like the locusts when they fly so thick that the whole sky is a snowstorm. You may kill one – two – ten; yes, as many as the leaves in the forest yonder, and their brothers will not miss them. Kill one – two – ten, and ten times ten will come to kill you. Count your fingers all day long and white men with guns in their hands will come faster than you can count.

Yes; they fight among themselves – away off. Do you hear the thunder of their big guns? No; it would take you two moons to run down to where they are fighting, and all the way your path would be among white soldiers as thick as tamaracks in the swamps of the Ojibways. Yes; they fight among themselves, but if you strike at them they will all turn on you and devour you and your women and little children just as the locusts in their time fall on the trees and devour all leaves in one day. You are fools. You cannot see the face of your chief; your eyes are full of smoke. You cannot hear his voice; your ears are full of roaring waters. Braves, you are little children – you are fools. You will die like the rabbits when the hungry wolves hunt them down in the Hard Moon (January). Ta-o-ya-te-du-ta is not a coward; he will die with you.
Little Crow, or Taoyateduta, or His Red Nation, (1810 - 1863), August 18, 1862

Andrew Myrick
Andrew Myrick, ca. 1860
SHSND 1993.156.1


"So far as I am concerned, if they are hungry let them eat grass or their own dung."
Andrew Myrick, August 15, 1862

By August of 1862, the Dakota people were desperate for food and appealed to agency traders to sell them food on credit. Andrew Myrick was a trader on the Lower Sioux Agency in southwest Minnesota. Myrick’s comments, in a meeting with Dakota leaders and the Bureau of Indian Affairs agent, ignited the spark of war.

On August 18, 1862, after the Battle of Lower Sioux Agency, post trader Andrew J. Myrick was found dead, with his mouth stuffed full of grass. This photograph was owned by Nathan Myrick, Andrew’s brother, who was later the post trader at Fort Pembina.

I was never present when the white people where willfully murdered. I saw all the dead bodies at the agency. Mr. Andrew Myrick, a trader, with an Indian wife, had refused some hungry Indians credit a short time before when they asked him for some provisions. He said to them: “Go and eat grass.” Now he was lying on the ground dead, with his mouth stuffed full of grass, and the Indians were saying tauntingly: “Myrick is eating grass himself.”
Jerome Big Eagle, or Wamditanka, (1827 - 1906) He surrendered in September 1862, was tried by the military commission and sentenced to death. Granted a reprieve, he was sent to a prison camp at Davenport, IA, and pardoned by President Lincoln in late 1864.