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The Wounded Knee Massacre and Children's Books

The Wounded Knee Massacre and Children's Books

To achieve his desired "balance," Waldman creates a false context for white attitudes toward Native peoples by highlighting and distorting the Santee Rebellion in Minnesota in 1862.

To understand Waldman's distortions, it is important to have some background on the Santee Rebellion. There is no dispute that hundreds of white people, including settlers, were killed during the rebellion. This is Waldman's version of the rebellion (italics ours):

    "The Santee planned to strike only the soldiers and their forts. But when they had ridden out into the settlements, years of pent-up frustration over their treatment on the reservation overcame them, and the Santee reverted to their traditional methods of warfare. Galloping through the countryside in small bands, they burned farms and houses, killed all the people they could find, scalped them and mutilated their bodies. When the violence ended, nearly 500 settlers were dead. Another 500 lost their homes."

The Santee decision to go to war against the whites was not easy, and had been deliberated in council for a long time. After a small group of young Santee men killed a settler family, it was argued that no Santee was safe from the whites, and that a preemptive strike would be more effective than a defensive battle. Little Crow argued against warring with the whites at this time, because the whites had a stronger military presence. But in the end, he reluctantly agreed.

While groups of undisciplined young men picked off the settlers and burned their farms, Little Crow led Santees, united with their Wahpeton, Sisseton, and Mdewakanton cousins, in war against the army. A month later, as Little Crow had predicted in council, the Santee were defeated. When the war was over, the cavalry rounded up some 600 prisoners of war, and in military trials that lasted frorm five to 15 minutes each, found 303 of the prisoners guilty and sentenced them to death. Of these, President Abraham Lincoln ordered 38 executed.

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