History of the Santee Sioux: United States Indian Policy on Trial

History of the Santee Sioux: United States Indian Policy on Trial

History of the Santee Sioux: United States Indian Policy on Trial

History of the Santee Sioux: United States Indian Policy on Trial


"This is a lucid and detailed account of the tragic effects of frontier expansion upon the native inhabitants of Minnesota. It depicts the condition of the eastern Sioux in the era of fur trading, considers the treaties that exchanged land for annuities, interprets the uprising of 1862, and traces Santee history."-Midcontinent American Studies Journal"A remarkably conprehensive study. . . . [Meyer] makes a significant contribution to our knowledge of American Indian policy. . . . The documentation is exceptionally full. . . . The tone throughout is judicious and moderate, yet the author's deep sympathy for his subject is evident."-Francis Paul Prucha, Minnesota History."This volume adds immeasurably to our historical knowledge about the fate of the Mdewakatons, Wahpekutes, Wahpetons, and Sissetons, the bands or divisions that constitute the Santee Sioux. . . . Meyer joins the few historians. . .who continue their studies beyond the military subjugation of the American Indian."-Donald J. Berthrong, Historical Society of Southern California."One of the most substantial additions to our knowledge of the Dakota to appear."-Ethnohistory."The book adds insight to the motivations of such famous individuals as Little Crow and Wabasha as well as the influential white men such as Taliaferro, Galbraith, and Bishop Whipple. . . . [It] not only brings the story of the Santee to its immediacy but offers the opportunity for this nation to learn something from history and profit from it."-Royal B. Hassrick, Colorado Magazine."The first real effort to deal with the history of this eastern division of the Sioux Nation. . . . it is all well written and rings true."-Choice.Since its original publication by the University of Nebraska Press in 1967, History of the Santee Sioux has become known as the definitive work on its subject. Now, in a revised edition, Roy W. Meyer brings the story of the Santees up to date.Roy W. Meyer is a professor emeritus of English at Mankato State University. His works include The Village Indians of the Upper Missouri: The Mandans, Hidatsas, and Arikaras, also published by the University of Nebraska Press.


During the quarter-century since the original publication of this book, tremendous changes have occurred on the Santee Sioux reservations. The dreary, poverty-stricken rural ghettos have largely given way to neat, busy communities whose residents take pride in them and, in some cases, offer tours to visitors. This transformation has resulted partly, though not entirely, from an unlikely development, the advent of commercial gaming on Indian reservations.

If the lives and homes of the Indians have changed, so have non- Indian attitudes toward them, for reasons that have little or nothing to do with gambling casinos. There is a greater sensitivity toward cultures different from the dominant society. This sensitivity is revealed, not merely in superficial ways, such as calling Indians "Native Americans"--substituting one misnomer for another--but in a widespread interest in and respect for the traditional beliefs and practices of the Indian people. Acceptance has replaced mere tolerance.

If the book had been written in the 1990s rather than the 1960s, these changed attitudes would probably have been reflected in the text. Perhaps I would have used the name "Dakota," which many-- though not all--of the Santees prefer, rather than "Sioux," despite the convenience of the more widely recognized designation, still generally used by the United States government. And I might have found a more felicitous title for Chapter 3, though "Civilizing the Sioux" was intended ironically.

But the changes here have been largely limited to the addition of an epilogue bringing up to date, however sketchily, the recent history of the Santee Sioux people. The rest of the book will have to rest on whatever merits it originally possessed.

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