Dakota men imprisoned at Davenport, Iowa after the war sent letters to Presbyterian missionary Stephen Riggs. He, in turn, shared their letters with family members. In their letters, the men detailed conditions in the prison, inquired about their futures, and asked Riggs to advocate on their behalf.
Mowis Itewakanhdiota (Moses Many Lightning Face) and other condemned prisoners knew that President Lincoln had spared them from hanging, but their death sentences still had not been commuted. News of the president’s assassination in 1865 caused them great concern.
For decades, the letters have been stored with other Riggs family papers at the Minnesota Historical Society. In recent years, several translation projects have been underway. The Dakota Prisoner of War Letters: Dakota Kaskapi Okicize Wowapi, which contains fifty letters translated by Clifford Canku and Michael Simon, will be published in 2013 by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.
This letter, dated April 17, 1865, was sent from Mowis Itewakanhdiota to Stephen Riggs. To read the letter with the Dakota direct translation and modern Dakota English translation, hover over the image and then click on the red circles.