I am always gratified whenever anyone takes an interest in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. It is arguably the most important event in Minnesota history, but it is sometimes forgotten. Taoyateduta (Little Crow), a Mdewakanton Dakota, had "often been a dinner guest" in the home of my 4th great grandmother, Cecilia (Turpin) Robinette, but my ancestors' experiences and roles in the war were both tragic and complicated. Cecilia's husband (my step-ancestor) was killed by the Dakota on the first day of the war. Four of her children and several of her grandchildren were taken captive. While many children were killed in the war, it appears - from a narrative - that Taoyateduta may have been influential in the fact Cecilia's children were captured and not killed. To complicate matters more, Cecilia's daughter, my 3rd great grandmother, Jane, was married to a mixed-blood Sisseton Dakota man who had been brought up under the guardianship of Minnesota's first governor, Henry Sibley. Jane's husband, my 3rd great grandfather, [[Coursolle-4|Kabupi (or "Gaboo") aka Joseph Coursolle]], had walked the line between two worlds - Dakota and White. Like many Dakota, Gaboo concurrently had two wives - my ancestor, Jane - a mostly White woman with Ojibwe ancestry - and Apan - a Mdewakanton Dakota woman. He had children with both wives. Gaboo/Joseph worked as a translator, a scout, and an Indian trader for the store of Louis Robert. In his work, he would have sold items on credit which were intended - by those more powerful than him - to put the Dakota in debt and place pressure on them during treaty negotiations. Gaboo/Joseph and Jane were at the Lower Sioux Agency on the first day of the war, 18 August 1862, and witnessed the first shots. Three of Gaboo/Joseph's children were taken captive, and a newborn son died in their escape to Fort Ridgely. There, Gaboo/Joseph was enlisted into the U.S. military, and he fought for the U.S. in every major battle of the war against his own people. He was present at Camp Release and reunited with his children on 26 September 1862 when the Dakota Peace Party surrendered the captives. The war resulted in the largest (still) mass hanging in U.S. history. THIRTY-EIGHT Dakota men were hanged together in Mankato, Minnesota on 26 December 1862. Their names - in addition to the names of 32 of the estimated 75-100 Dakota soldiers who died during the fighting - are documented. More than one-quarter of the Dakota who surrendered in 1862 died during the following year. All Dakota were exiled from Minnesota, and their Minnesota reservation lands were opened for settlement. Of the more than 600 White people killed during the war, just over 120 were soldiers and armed civilians. The others were mostly unarmed men, women, and children who were recent immigrants to Minnesota. It is estimated that 30 per cent of the civilians killed were children aged ten and under.
I would be remiss not to include this beautiful photograph of my 3rd great grandmother Jane (and her granddaughter) as Jane showed great bravery in her flight from the Lower Sioux Agency, the loss of her step-father and newborn baby, the captivity of her children and half-siblings, the the soldiering of her husband, and the loss of their property and livelihood.
Jane is mentioned in Gaboo/Joseph's testimony:
...I heard one gun fired, and then Cutnose took his gun and dropped it down that way (indicating) and shot Antoine Young right in the stomach, and he just went this way (indicating falling over). And three days before that my wife was confined with a child and in bed at the time, and she raised up, with her baby in her arms and she says - came to the door and says, "Let's go," and crying, and reached me by the arm. And I told her to lie down. Said I, "Wife, you can't save yourself anyhow." She said she would go anyhow. And we started going down the hill, there was a bluff coming down that way, and she was holding my arm this way, and I was holding my other boy with the [?] and we went down the hill and went in the timber and hid ourselves, and then we crossed the Minnesota River and came on the other side and then that night I came to Ft. Ridgley, walking with her, about midnight. That is the way I saved my life.