The Life and Death of Little Crow, Reluctant War Chief

Portrait of Little Crow, 1862

Taoyateduta, which roughly translates as "His Scarlet Nation". Known to settlers (due to a miscommunication) as Little Crow.

     In the 1850s, hostilities increased between the Dakota people in Minnesota territory, as the Dakota were beginning to experience mass starvation due to loss of hunting land and late or stolen annuity payments to the tribe. The War of 1862 between the United States and the Dakota broke out after four Dakota men murdered a five settlers, without any tribal authorization or authority.

     When news of the murders were brought back to Taoyateduta, he had already been removed from his position as Chief. This was due to a lack of confidence in his leadership after he visited Washington and was convinced to sign the treaties ceding Dakota land in return for annuity payments.

     He was reluctant to go to war for much the same reason as he had been convinced to sign the treaties-- after visiting Washington, he felt that the Dakota were vastly outnumbered and that warfare was futile. However, despite his initial reluctance, he was made War Chief and led his people into battle in the war that has been described as striking like sudden lightning. There are many former names used to describe this war. Initially it was called "the Sioux Uprising"; another name used was "Little Crow's War". 

Portrait of Wowinape, Chief Little Crow's Son

One of Chief Little Crow's son's, imprisoned at Fort Snelling after the U.S. -Dakota War of 1862.

The Life and Death of Little Crow, Reluctant War Chief