A new documentary on the causes of 1862

A new documentary, produced and directed by Dakota activist and artist Sheldon P. Wolfchild, chronicling from the tragic events of 1862 from the Dakota point of view, which has already been shown at several venues, will be shown again as part of a series of 1862 events on August 23, at Turner Halle, 102 South State St., New Ulm, Minnesota, and on August 26th, 1pm, 3:30pm and 6pm at the Parkway Theater in Minneapolis. It is expected that there will be other showings of the film at Fort Snelling State Park or other locations in September. Wolfchild will be present at these scheduled showings. In addition, historian Mark Diedrich will appear with Wolfchild at the Parkway showing on August 26. Mark Diedrich, who has written numerous books on American Indian history in Minnesota has provided MinnesotaHistory.net the following account of his involvement in the documentary:

As I have been writing on Dakota people for the past thirty years, I am very sympathetic to them. However, my intention as a historian and author was never to misrepresent the truth, but rather to find out what the truth was. In the ten years leading up to the Dakota War there was much injustice toward the Dakota in Minnesota. This story has never been adequately told, but the gist of it is in my Little Crow book, published in 2006. Unfortunately, there are few outlets for such books and those who do find it, generally take or leave what they want in it. I was fortunate to team up this year with Sheldon Wolfchild and Bill Weiss regarding a documentary called Star Dreamers, which has three parts, some as yet unfinished. The first part is what is titled “The Indian System.” Sheldon and Bill have utilized me personally and my work a great deal in this film, along with David Nichols, who wrote Lincoln and the Indians. Due to this commemorative year, Sheldon is trying to get “The Indian System” out for public viewing. We have been in New Ulm and also at the Parkway Theater in south Minneapolis. Showings at Fort Snelling are in the works. We are hoping that the MHS will allow a screening at the History Center. This film does not mince words about how the “Indian System” brought the Dakota to such a low point that they thought it would be better to die in a war than starve to death. I hope that many will urge that this documentary be screened at appropriate venues. We are not insensitive to the innocent settlers who died ugly and gruesome deaths. As is stated in the film, we wish Governor Ramsey had heeded the warnings provided him, to open the warehouse doors and feed the starving Lower Dakota. That said, we name names in this film, and this gives a chance for viewers to assign blame and culpability to key people who were largely responsible for bringing on this war. I am personally sick of the general whitewashing we see in historical writings. Historians need to see that there was a cover-up of the causes of the war. I have spent years trying to unravel this cover-up. I had nothing in mind other than to get at the truth, as far as it can be determined. Please lend your voice to a screening of this film in whatever way you can.


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