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Dakota Expulsion Act makes it illegal for Dakota people to live in MN

Keith Ellison remarks in the federal Congressional record submitted by Keith Ellison on December 19, 2012.

Note in yellow below the Dakota Expulsion Act of 1863, a federal law making it illegal for Dakota people to live in Minnesota, has yet to be repealed.

Seems to me Senator Franken, Klobuchar and Congress member Ellison would like to repeal that law immediately and a repeal would be do-able.

(Document certified by Superintendent of Documents <pkisupport@gpo.gov>) Signed by Superintendent of Documents <pkisupport@gpo.gov> Time: 2012.12.20 08:42:03 -05'00' Reason: GPO attests that this document has not been altered since it was disseminated by GPO Location: US GPO, Washington, DC 20401
E1968 CONGRESSIONAL RECORD — Extensions of Remarks December 19, 2012 
 

REMEMBERING THE LIVES LOST 

IN THE 1862 U.S.-DAKOTA CONFLICT 

HON. KEITH ELLISON 

OF MINNESOTA 

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 

Mr. ELLISON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in 
remembrance of those who lost their lives in 
the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. This year marks 
the 150th anniversary of the conflict, reminding 
us of this tragic era in Minnesota’s history, 
and how it has shaped the lives of the Dakota 
people to this day. 

It is easy to consider history as a list of 
dates—a discovery, a war, a proclamation, an 

What has come to be known as the U.S.-
Dakota War of 1862 has its roots in the rapid 
expansion of Minnesota’s population by white 
settlers, and the subsequent treatment of indigenous 
peoples. From 1850–1860, the numbers 
of white settlers in Minnesota grew from 
5,000 to more than 170,000; in that same decade, 
Native Americans went from the majority 
of people in Minnesota to being outnumbered 
by whites 5–1. Treaties made between the 
Dakota people and the U.S. government 
pushed native communities off their ancestral 
lands with promises of money, food, and commodities. 
Forced assimilation policies further 
marginalized tribes by requiring the adoption 
of European style dress, hair, and culture. 
Tensions escalated when the government 
failed to pay promised annuities, a drought decreased 
the supply of food leaving many Dakota 
families hungry, and the U.S. government 
took back land set aside for Indian reservations, 
reducing the remaining reservation size 
drastically. 

The first violent acts of the conflict occurred 
on August 17, 1862, when four young Dakota 
men killed five people at a farm near Acton, 
Minnesota. These murders divided the Dakota 
community; some argued it was time to go to 
war with the settlers who now claimed ancestral 
Dakota land, but much of the community 
wanted to maintain peace. Nevertheless, Dakota 
leader Little Crow led his Nation to War, 
understanding that the greater power of the 

U.S. government would most likely prevail. 
The weeks of violence that followed in 
Southern Minnesota led to over 1,000 deaths. 
The U.S.-Dakota War is one of the bloodiest 
conflicts between a Native tribe and the U.S. 
government, surpassing both the conflicts of 
Little Big Horn and Wounded Knee. The War’s 
end was marked by the largest mass execution 
in U.S. history, when 38 Dakota men were 
convicted in kangaroo courts and hung on December 
26, 1862. Originally 303 Dakota men 
were tried and sentenced to death, but President 
Lincoln personally reviewed the cases 
and stayed the execution of those whose conviction 
was based on questionable testimony. 
Two additional Dakota warriors were forcibly 
returned from Canada and hanged at Fort 
Snelling in 1865. 

Although the day of the execution stands 
out in history, the suffering of the Dakota people 
continued throughout the winter and into 
the coming years. Those Dakota who had surrendered 
to U.S. forces, many of whom opposed 
the war, were forced to march to an internment 
camp at Fort Snelling and suffer 
through a brutally cold winter filled with disease, 
food shortages, and assaults by soldiers 
and civilians alike. Hundreds perished over the 
winter, and those who survived were forcibly 
relocated to Western reservations where similar 
conditions led to more deaths. Some 6,000 
displaced members of the Dakota community 
relocated to Canada and Western states and 
territories, and by the end of the decade a majority 
of the Dakota tribe had left its ancestral 
lands. 

The U.S.-Dakota War reminds us of how the 
events of the past continue to reverberate to 
this day. Dakota tribe members are still dispersed 
over several states and into Canada 
as a direct result of this conflict. Most unfortunate, 
the Dakota Expulsion Act of 1863, a federal 
law making it illegal for Dakota people to 


December 19, 2012 CONGRESSIONAL RECORD — Extensions of Remarks E1969 

live in Minnesota, has yet to be repealed. In 
August of this year, members of the Dakota 
community took part in a walk through South 
Dakota to the Minnesota border, symbolizing 
the unjust forcible removal of all Dakota people 
from Minnesota in 1863. 

The healing from the War is ongoing; honoring 
those we lost and remembering our 
complicated past should not be limited to anniversaries 
of the conflict. We should use this 
year of reflection to inform a more inclusive 
view of history, an appreciation of how far 
we’ve come, and recognition of all we must do 
to continue to support our Native communities 
today. 


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