Transcript for Perspectives on Attack on New Ulm Video

Watch video Perspectives on Attack on New Ulm on YouTube


Anton Treuer: The U.S.-Dakota War in 1862, that’s a complicated event. There’s a reason the Minnesota Historical Society has 20 different books published on the subject. It takes a little time and there are emotionally charged views all around.

Gwen Westerman: To have a painting that depicts a single moment of one battle during the War of 1862 is problematic and it privileges that single moment in time from Gag’s interpretation of events to the exclusion of all of the other stories that encompass that history.

Darlene St. Clair: The problem is not so much the painting, but it’s the viewer. The viewer does not have an understanding of the context for the war or the attack on New Ulm. The viewer does not have an understanding of the impacts and the ways that Dakota people continue to lose, and the ways that white society continued to gain after that war.

George Glotzbach: When the Dakota attacked New Ulm, my great-great-grandmother and her daughter, my great-grandmother, Mary, and her two brothers, were all inside the barricades. So, I’d like to think I got, I got skin in the game, as they say, so I've got not only a, you know, historical perspective, but I’ve got a very personal one.

Syd Beane: My immediate family fought with Little Crow. But a number of my Dakota relatives were loyalists as well. They did not fight in the war.

Mark White: It’s an incredible piece of history, a very tragic one in which there’s really no winner. It is something I believe that needs to continue to have some sort of public viewing, primarily because this is the kind of history that we cannot afford to forget.

Annette Atkins: It’s my major concern, with that painting, isn’t to say those people, those native people didn’t attack New Ulm, but their portrayal in that painting is of sneaky, conniving people. Too easy.

Syd Beane: I think we, as Dakota people, have been over-romanticized and stereotyped. We are the cowboys and Indians in this state and so the Dakota people must be understood beyond the cowboys and Indians narrative.

George Glotzbach: Anton Gag, when he prepared to paint this picture, went and interviewed Dakota, who were at the battle, in the battle. He interviewed people from New Ulm who were at the battle and in the battle, and he came here to the Minnesota Historical Society to do research.

Erika Doss: Let’s not assume that because it looks realistic and it has the right number of folks in it and it captured the buildings in the background appropriately, but let's not mistake that. This is still from an artist’s point of view, created at a particular moment in the early 20th Century when attitudes about Native American savagery and assumptions about whites as civilizers, were really, really dominant, and that’s what’s really a part of this painting. Not the more egregious aspects of what this painting is also about, which is about natives being starved, natives being lied to, natives rising up in 1862, because they really felt cornered and they didn’t have any other choice.

George Glotzbach: The people of Minnesota then, and the people of Minnesota now, are big enough to wrap their head around it without it being censored or lectured to. Show the picture. Tell what it’s all about, what and when happened, and let the viewer make up his or her own mind.

Anton Treuer: We don’t have to suppress any paintings or destroy them. You know, I want my children to study them and learn from them, too. But in an appropriate context and with appropriate interpretive information.

Gwen Westerman: When the art reflects the people of Minnesota, everything else is going to follow, because it’s important that our stories are there in all their varieties, because the more perspectives we have about who we are as Minnesotans, the fuller picture we’ll have of what it means to be a part of history and a part of a community that values everyone’s voices.