Native Village 
Youth and Education News
May, 2013
Two men translate, publish Native American prisoner of war letters
http://www.wday.com/event/article/id/78460/
Condensed by Native Village
 
 

North Dakota: They are 50 extraordinary letters, written by some of the 270 Native Americans at an Iowa prison camp following the U.S. Dakota War of 1862. These letters have been translated and shared in "book form," thanks to the work of two men: Dr. Clifford Canku and Michael Simon.
 
Both are experts in the Dakota language.

A Dakota prisoner, Many Lightning Face, described to family how he and others were trying reconcile taking Holy Communion after U.S. Dakota War in Minnesota.
 
“They said they will not take the communion, it is so,” Lightning Face wrote.

Dr. Canku is an enrolled Dakota member from the Sisseton Wahpeton tribe and instructor at North Dakota State University. Canku spent years translating more than 100 letters from his people who were imprisoned after  the hanging of 38 Dakota men near Mankato.  The prison camps in Iowa saw Dakota men starve and freeze to death.
 
“At the same time, the character of our Dakota people was very positive,” Canku said.
 
Dr. Canku hopes non-Indians reading this book will gain understanding about the Dakota's mistreatment and the truth about the Dakota War.

“Get back to telling our side of the story," he said. "One is the colonizer stories, and those have been colonized. Our resources have been stolen.”

Canku is credited with helping save the Dakota language from fading away. His curriculum, along with the new book, helps keep the next generation from ever forgetting.
 


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