“If you don’t keep quiet, we’ll push you off here and leave you here.”

Ms. Noel relays a story shared with her about a friend's family's escape from Minnesota after the U.S.-Dakota War.

Audio Chapters

DL: When did you first hear about everything that happened in Minnesota in the 1860’s about, first it was a conflict, then it turned into a war, and then all the Dakota were chased out? When did you first hear about that?

EN: Oh, just what the old people used to say. This one old lady I used to visit in Birdtail, she lived by herself and her name was an Indian name, but the white people gave her the name Jennie. Her Indian name could have been Blue Bird, only in Sioux, because that’s her last name; they just translated it to English.

DL: Jennie Blue Bird; that’s pretty.

EN: Yes. And her mom was Annie Red Bird. They both married there, and they both have tombstones there with their names on.

DL: I see. And what story do you remember her telling you?

EN: She said when they were running across (Minnesota) They must (have been) coming this way (to Canada), because they said they were carrying her on her mom’s back. She said she was about 3 or 4 years old and she was tired, so her mom carried her. (They went) at night and stayed in the bush all day, and then they traveled at night. Jennie started laughing and her mom says, “If you don’t keep quiet, we’ll push you off here and leave you here.” They were supposed to be quiet; they didn’t want the white people to know that they were running away.

DL: The little girl didn’t know there was a price on her head.

EN: No, she didn’t.

DL: But the parents did.

EN: Yes. That’s how they came across.

DL: Can you imagine what an adventure that was for that family?

EN: Yeah.

DL: How many children did they bring with them; just her?

EN: Just her.

DL: And they made it; they were successful.

EN: Yes. They made it and some of them went as far as Prince Albert, that came from over there.

DL: On foot.

EN: Yes.

DL: They ran from Minnesota to Prince Albert.

EN: They kept moving further north, I guess, because they didn’t want to be found. That’s how they ended up over there. And they talked just the same as the people that come from Birdtail. They all seem the same. There is a difference, kind of, in the Dakota language, but they all talk the same.

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. “If you don’t keep quiet, we’ll push you off here and leave you here.” May 29, 2024. http://www.usdakotawar.org/node/1491

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