I would never treat someone like that, no matter what nationality they were

Ms. Pendleton reflects on the U.S.-Dakota War and how she views others in her daily life.

Things to think about: 

Ms. Pendleton says: "it seems like my ancestors were killed or murdered, and yet when the Dakota people killed the non-Indian it was a 'massacre.'" What does this reflect?

Audio Chapters

DL: What is your opinion of the war?

JP: Very sad. I don’t even know why they would have to [go to war]. They [white people] got their land, and promised them this and that – food and that they would always have their place to live. It’s so upsetting that some people could be that way. At that time they just took advantage of the poor people who didn’t understand. But the government was promising them and the Dakota took them by their word, I suppose. I would never treat someone like that, no matter what nationality they were.

DL: You mentioned that the impact of that decade is anger. Do you think that anger still exists today?

JP: Yes.

DL: How do you know that?

JP: Well, I get feelings like that at some people, and I’m sure some of my children read about it in books and movies show it. It brings a lot of resentment and anger.

DL: Do you think it’s a good idea to commemorate the events of the mid 1800’s today, 150 years later?

JP: Yes, I think so. Because I think that as the years go by, it may happen again; you never know.

DL: What’s the best way to commemorate that time?

JP: I try to treat non-Indians right. I know what their ancestors did to my ancestors, but I try to forgive and forget. I’ll never forget, but you try to forgive because it’s so many years and you just don’t know who to blame anymore.

DL: So when you see the non-Indians around here today, do you look at them as people who perpetrated tremendous hardship on your people? Do you look at them as people who are basically innocent of that period, so you really can’t blame them, or do you look at them as people who in some way benefitted unfairly from that period?

JP: I feel that they have benefited from that, but that feeling should go for them too, that it’s not our fault either. You have to try and get along as best you can nowadays. But I don’t like to hear them say, “Well, she’s just an old Indian.”

DL: I haven’t asked anyone about this yet, and it just occurs to me: There are descendents of the non-Indians who were killed at this time in New Ulm, particularly in New Ulm. And they have their point of view, which is that they suffered terribly too, because maybe their great-great grandfather and his children were murdered, and they carry this today. What would you say to them?

JP: Well, just like mine – it seems like my ancestors were killed or murdered, and yet when the Dakota people killed the non-Indian it was a “massacre.” It’s not my fault, it’s not their fault, but you have to live with that and it’s always there.

Oral History- Interview | Narrator Joan Pendleton Interviewer Deborah Locke made in Morton, Lower Sioux Community, MN | Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. I would never treat someone like that, no matter what nationality they were May 22, 2019. http://www.usdakotawar.org/node/1092

Viewpoints: All viewpoints expressed on this website are those of the contributors, and are not representative of the Minnesota Historical Society.