Saturday, November 12, 2016

Heroes and the Dakota War of 1862

A footnote from history by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Refugees fleeing during the Dakota War
Every war births tales of heroism and cowardice, kindness and cruelty. In August of 1862, spoiled hunting grounds, inadequate annuities, hunger, and a host of other problems and injustices culminated in the Dakota War. During that conflict, many Dakota Indians risked their own lives to protect those they considered to be not only friends but also brothers and sisters in Christ.

Zoe, a Dakota woman, took provisions to fleeing missionaries.

John Otherday

John Otherday guided sixty-two survivors to safety. 

Tatemema encouraged survivors to flee the sixteen miles to Fort Ridgely from the Lower Sioux Agency.  

A group of Dakota women met refugees near Henderson, Minnesota, and provided shoes to children who had worn theirs out fleeing through sharp grass.

Four Dakota men traveled with and guarded a group of missionaries, only to be killed shortly after leaving them safe at a river crossing. 

Simon Anawangmane escorted a woman and her children to safety.

Lorenzo Lawrence "brought in canoes Mrs. DeCamp and children and others," along with Dr. Stephen Riggs's large church Bible the copy of the Dakota Grammar and Dictionary he prized (probably because he had spent decades of his life learning the language and producing not only a grammar and dictionary but also a translation of the New Testament).
Mary Riggs

Spirit Walker provided refuge in his tepee where, according to Dr. Stephen Riggs, "Mrs. Amos Huggins found a welcome, and as good a home as they [the Dakota] could make for her and her fatherless children." (Mrs. Huggins's husband, Amos, was killed in the war.)

Writing about the terrifying event, Stephen Riggs's wife, Mary, mentioned John Otherday, Simon Anawangmane, and Lorenzo Lawrence and then went on to say, "...and we doubt not that others will also 'let their light shine'--at the peril of their lives, remember." 

What's your favorite story of heroism?

Stephanie Whitson's 3-book Dakota Moons series tells the love story of Genevieve LaCroix and Daniel Two Stars, Christian Dakota Indians who are caught up in the events of the Dakota War. Visit her Pinterest board about the first book, Valley of the Shadow, here:

Find the book here:


  1. When I think of heroism, I picture Esther from the Bible. Of course, my thoughts have been on the veterans these past few days.
    Great post. Those people were true heroes.

  2. Ah, Esther. Good point! My book club is discussing Angela Hunt's novel about Esther in January and I'm delving into the biblical account and commentaries by way of preparing.

  3. Thank you for your most interesting post.

  4. Thank you for sharing these war heroes, Stephanie!

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

    1. Learning about them made me sad that I hadn't been taught more in my history classes in school ... of course that was back in covered wagon days LOL.

  5. Thank you for sharing this informative post about war heroes. So many are unsung heroes.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post, Marilyn. Thanks for taking time to let me know.