A compelling biography for young readers that traces the life of the Dakota leader Taoyateduta (Little Crow) and his role in the U.S.-Dakota Conflict of 1862.
Appropriate for readers ages 9 and up.
The Plains Indian Wars of the nineteenth century garnered enduring fame for certain Indian leaders, their names echoing powerfully even today: Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Red Cloud. Just as significant but less often mentioned is Taoyateduta, known to whites as Little Crow, the reluctant leader of Dakota warriors during the U.S.–Dakota War of 1862, the opening salvo of the U.S.–Indian Wars.
In this carefully researched biography of the Dakota leader, the first ever written for children, author Gwenyth Swain presents a compelling portrait of the leader, warrior, and politician at the center of the Dakota War of 1862.
Beginning with Taoyateduta’s childhood along the Mississippi River near present-day St. Paul, this biography explores his life in the Big Woods, his wanderings west from the Mdewakanton Dakota’s traditional home, his leadership of his people when they were forced to sign over their land to white settlers, and his role during the war of 1862. Hemmed in on a narrow reservation, frustrated by broken treaties, angered by dishonest agents and traders, and nearly starved because of crop failures and late annuity payments, Dakota Indians attacked white settlers living on the Indians’ former homelands in southwestern Minnesota. Taoyateduta agreed to lead the battles, knowing that the U.S. government’s response would be swift and terrible. In retribution for the thirty-eight-day war, thirty-eight Dakota men were hanged, thousands were imprisoned, and the Dakota people were expelled from the state.
Taoyateduta’s story brings to life the painful experience of the Dakota as they lost their land and their livelihood — and as some chose to adopt white ways while others fought back, with disastrous consequences. Little Crow: Leader of the Dakota offers a clear and accessible account of both the man who led the Dakota into war and the causes behind that wrenching conflict.
Gwenyth Swain is the author of over twenty books for children, including Dred and Harriet Scott: A Family’s Struggle for Freedom (MNHS Press), the novel Chig and the Second Spread, the picture book I Wonder As I Wander, and Bookworks: Making Books by Hand, winner of a Minnesota Book Award.
Praise for Little Crow
“A clear and sympathetic telling of the life of Little Crow, an important historical figure, and his part in the ‘Great Sioux Uprising.’ A well-told tale of a person and an event in American history that too few have heard about and even fewer have understood. Swain’s story is an excellent starting place for both young and older readers.” — Joseph Bruchac, author of Pocahontas and Sacajawea: The Story of Bird Woman and the Lewis and Clark Expedition