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150 years ago, America executed dozens of Natives for simply protesting their right to life

300 people of the native Sioux tribe were sentenced to execution. After a letter from Abraham Lincoln, the number was reduced to 38 — which is still not okay.

150 years ago, America executed dozens of Natives for simply protesting their right to life
Image Source: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Rallies In Washington DC For Tribal Rights WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: Protesters march during a demonstration against the Dakota Access Pipeline on March 10, 2017 in Washington, DC/Getty Images

The United States government's treatment of Native Americans has always been abysmal. Throughout history, colonizers, state governments, and the federal government have robbed Indigenous tribes of their resources, rights, and humanity. There is no doubt that the native people of our great country are part of some of the most deprived communities in the modern United States. Their current socioeconomic status can be traced back to moments in history that have resulted in their ongoing subjugation. The Dakota War of 1862, which took place exactly 150 years ago this week, is (only) one such event. Following the civil uprising of the Sioux tribe, dozens of men were executed by the United States government, CNN reports.


The Dakota War of 1862 is also known as the Sioux Uprising. Parts of the Sioux tribe native to Dakota, terribly frustrated with and angered by the United States government over broken land treaties and delayed annuity payments, went to war against the White colonizers who had overtaken Minnesota (which had recently become a state four years prior to the uprising). The war lasted six weeks, during which at least 500 White people and 60 Natives died. The uprising finally ended on December 26, which is when the state government doled out the most inhumane and deeply upsetting punishment ever.


In a treacherous move, 38 Native people from the Sioux tribe were hanged in Mankato, Minnesota, in the largest mass execution to ever occur in the United States. To make the situation even worse, the Minnesota government forced the remaining Indigenous peoples to evacuate the newly-formed state, first holding them in a camp and then sending them out of the region. While 38 men were hanged, the original number of people sentenced by then Minnesota Governor Alexander Ramsey was far higher. Originally, 300 men were sentenced to execution. The number of people sentenced was only brought down when former President Abraham Lincoln wrote a letter to the governor. In the letter, he listed 39 names to be hanged instead of the initial 300. One individual was reprieved at a later date.


Nonetheless, it must be remembered that is still 38 people that should have never been executed in the first place. Once again, the United States has blood on its hands. It is even sadder to think that few children are taught of this massacre in schools, leaving them to believe that their country was formed by settlers and not colonizers. Now, 150 years on, federal and state governments are yet to wash their hands clean. After all, how can they when they continue to suppress and subjugate Indigenous folk?


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