Little Crow: Spokesman For The Sioux
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Looks at the life of the Dakota Indian chief and his difficulties with the U.S. federal government during the mid 1800s.
obligations. The young Mdewakanton chief quickly realized that the whites possessed the means with which to secure influence and power, and he turned to working with them. While the acceptance of large amounts of annuities offset the decline of game, such changes also affected the traditional nature of Sioux leadership. Little Crow became a broker, and his role as a leader was increasingly marred by the basic dilemma that most Indian leaders would ultimately face in the nineteenth century;
cultivate.38 But this minimal acceptance of white culture hardly compromised his strong spiritual commitment to traditional Dakota values. Little Crow believed that it was wrong to abandon the centuries-old Sioux teachings. Living in houses and eating government-issued pork and bread did not affect his religious beliefs, but cutting one’s hair, permanently donning white clothing, and becoming a farmer surely did. What made matters even worse for him was the fact that many men from his village
Joseph, visited their camp regularly and established a good relationship with the Mdewakantons.26 By late spring he even found them willing to trade three white boys who had been adopted by the tribe as a result of the Minnesota war. Father André soon noticed, however, that the Mdewakantons had very little food, and if they stayed long, they would cause famine. The two traders at the village made no effort to conserve food, giving the Indians whatever they wanted in exchange for the plundered
to think of whites. Some of the female members of Little Crow’s family married whites or mixed-bloods. Such ties proved valuable when it came to negotiating with the United States government. The major link came through the marriage of Joseph Renville, Senior, to a granddaughter of Cetanwakanmani, Little Crow’s grandfather. Although a full-blood Kaposia girl, Renville’s wife took the name Mary Renville. Taoyateduta was Mary Renville’s mother’s brother’s son, or male cross-cousin.27 It is
Holcombe, Minnesota in Three Centuries, 2:308–10; “Journal of the Joint Commission,” August 5, 1851, NARG 75, DRNRUT. 21 Here and below, “Journal of the Joint Commission,” August 5, 1851, NARG 75, DRNRUT; Holcombe, Minnesota in Three Centuries, 2:310–16 (quotation, 314–15); Ramsey and Lea report, August (1851?), LR, MS; Joseph W. Hancock, “Missionary Work at Red Wing, 1849 to 1852,” Minnesota Collections 10 (1900–04): 177; Lea to Stuart, August 6, 1851, SED, no. 1, 32d Congress, 1st session,