Seeding Resiliency: Dakota Farming in Canada

Written by Hañwakañ Blaikie Whitecloud.

Farming is a skill that my Dakota ancestors-- particularly my great-great-grandfather Mahpiyaska, which translates to ‘Whitecloud’ in English-- picked up quickly. In 1851, after securing treaties with the United States that recognized their rights to their own territory, some Dakota in Minnesota were trained in farming by US government teachers to have them settle on reserves. The Dakota had access to oxen, ploughs, scythes, wagons, grain cradles, and they managed cattle, milk cows, draught and riding horses, sheep, poultry, and hogs. After a season of poor farming conditions and no aid of rations as promised in their treaties, the Dakota population was decimated, initially through starvation and then through a quickly-quashed rebellion over the betrayal of their treaty rights. The US Government’s response was the largest mass execution in North America’s history, known as the ‘Dakota 38+2’, which took place on December 26, 1862 in Mankato, MN.