“Let them eat grass.”

Mr. White talks about causes of the U.S.-Dakota War.

Words to look for: 
Things to think about: 

Andrew Myrick, an Anglo trader, said "Let them eat grass, or their own dung" when the Dakota complained of late annuity payments and starvation.

Audio Chapters

DL: What’s your opinion of the war?

BW: You know, being Native American, I can say it was all their fault. [Laughter] But I’m sure there are two sides to every story. I think if the United States government and the people who were responsible for handing out the rations and payments had done their job correctly, they probably wouldn’t have had any problems. I heard that when someone asked the person who ran the store for rations, he said “Let them eat grass.” That kind of sits the wrong way. After the attack, they found him and he had grass in his mouth. I thought “Wow! How did they know?” Somebody must have told. Something must have been going on.

I’m sure the United States, in good faith, tried its best. Who knows? Someone told me one time that he had heard of or seen a document that President Lincoln had signed calling off that hanging. But it never got here [to Minnesota] in time. I’ve never seen nor heard anything like that.

Oral History- Interview | Narrator Byron White Interviewer Deborah Locke made in Lake Elmo, MN | Thursday, April 21, 2011

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. “Let them eat grass.” April 22, 2024. http://www.usdakotawar.org/node/1139

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