On December 6, 1862, over 300 Santee Sioux were found guilty of raping and murdering white settlers during the so-called Minnesota Uprising. About a month later, President Lincoln commuted the death sentence of all but 39 men. On December 26, 38 Sioux were hanged (one man gained a last-minute reprieve), in front of a large gathering of approving Minnesotans.
The Minnesota Uprising was part of the Indian Wars that spanned several decades of the 19th Century. After white settlers moved into the Minnesota Valley, the Sioux were gradually forced to relocate on several occasions. Conditions on the reservations were atrocious, with Indian agents refusing to release food to the Sioux until they received their kickback payments.
Terrible conditions continued until the Sioux left the reservation and killed white settlers and kidnapped white women. On September 23, an Army force finally defeated the Santee at Wood Lake. Many of the hostages were recovered. The ensuing trials ignored the conditions which prompted the uprising, however Lincoln’s commutation of most of the death sentences reflected his understanding of the situation.
Were any of your ancestors living in Minnesota at the time of the uprising?
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