This paper will look at the movement and settlement patterns of the Mdwankanton Dakota focusing on the Lower Sioux, Mystic Lake and Prairie Island groups. I will first look at the larger Dakota and Lakota settlement patterns from the time of European contact until the beginnings of the 1900's. From there I will begin to look at what life was like on the reservations of the Lower Sioux, Mystic Lake and Prairie Island groups. I will look at historic events, such as both of the battles at Wounded Knee, as they help shape the thinking, religious and settlement patterns of the Dakota and Lakota over the last one-hundred and thirty years. The focus will then move to the changes in the reservation economy and infrastructure due to the legalization of gambling and how that has affected the settlement patterns of the modern Dakota. Finally, I will take a look at how the Patriot Act, enacted after the attacks on September 11, 2001, has affected the civil rights and movement patterns of shaman and American Indian Movement members.
The Mdwankanton Dakotah; Traditional Locations, Historic Locations & Related Movement Patterns.
The Dakota and Lakota are related clan groups within the Great Sioux Nation. The traditional spelling of their names includes an "h" on the end (Dakotah and Lakotah). I was taught early on that you speak Dakota if you were east of the Red River of the North (the river that is the border for Minnesota and North Dakota) and you spoke Lakota if you were west of it. Currently the Mdwankanton Dakota live on four reservations in Minnesota; Upper Sioux, Lower Sioux, Prairie Island and Shakopee (Mystic Lake). Long before the Dakota people saw any white settlers they had been touched by them through contact with new diseases. Small pox and Rubella (German measles) were the two biggest killers of native Dakota and Lakota peoples. Early ethnographers like James Mooney estimated from their observations that about 90% of the Native American groups like the Dakota and Lakota died from these diseases before they ever saw their first white person. (Palmer 2008) As Europeans moved west and traded with the Dakota and Lakota they also brought with them alcohol, guns and other goods. Native American's had never distilled alcohol before European contact, let alone drink it. Their bodies were not accustomed to processing this new chemical, thus it had a stronger effect on them. Later, the term "drunken Indian" will haunt the Native peoples of this country for many years. In Minnesota the traditional Dakota society was fast disappearing and a new way of life was taking over. "The Yankton and the Lakota moved onto the plains to trap the beaver desired by the European traders. Meanwhile the Dakota, the middlemen, adopted the European Broadcloth as a part o their regular attire, a process that was expedited by the loss of precious game, hence hides, in their territory as they competed with white settles for food and territory." (Palmer 2008)
"The Dakota first laid eyes on whites when they met French explorers Pierre Radisson and Seur des Groseilliers in 1660. At the time, the Dakota were living in northern Wisconsin. They later moved to the Mille Lacs Lake area but were pushed south after battles with the rival Ojibwa. The two Indian nations had a long series of conflicts stretching from 1736 to the mid-1850's. In 1825 the Ojibwa and Dakota reached an agreement that set a boundary that ran diagonally across Minnesota, from what is now Stillwater to the Fargo area. The Dakota were south of the line, including the Minnesota River Valley. (Krohn 2008)
First Conflicts in Southern Minnesota
"In 1837, a treaty was signed giving all Dakota land east of the Mississippi to the government. Much of the money that was to go to the Indians instead went to traders who said--sometimes falsely--that they were owed debts by the Dakota. In 1851, on of the nation's most important treaties was signed at Traverse des Sioux between the government and the Wahpeton and Sisseton bands of Dakota. …