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U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 Anniversary Brings Heritage to Forefront for South Dakota Man

A South Dakota man relates to the anniversary reflections on the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 because his Native American ancestor played a part in the event.
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With this year being the 150th anniversary of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, many are reflecting on the war’s aftermath, including Myron Taylor, who has been facing his personal history.

Taylor is the great-grandson of Ocepiduta, who was number 29 on the list of more than 300 Native American men condemned to death after the war. Ocepiduta, or John Taylor—his Christian name—was one of the men pardoned by President Abraham Lincoln. In the end, 38 Dakota men were executed in Mankato, Minnesota.

The pardoned men were exiled from Minnesota along with 14 Dakota tribal communities. That’s how John Taylor ended up in South Dakota.

With all the anniversary activities, Myron has been reflecting on his heritage. The Worthington Daily Globe recently spoke with him and reported that he participated in the Legacy of Survival events held August 15-17. He even did the walk home from Flandreau to across the state border to Pipestone National Monument in southwestern Minnesota, which held a 75th anniversary celebration on August 25. Myron also participated in that.

Three Natives purchased a golf course last year in Florida’s Tampa area.  From left, Mitch Osceola, Jayson Ray and Steve McDonald

Quarriers gather red pipestone for making pipes at Pipestone National Monument. There are still 56 active quarries in use today. (Image courtesy National Park Service)

“It’s a special place,” he told the Daily Globe, adding that his father was born in a tipi on the Pipestone grounds. “I can’t even describe how special it is. I spent most of life there, I think. I know much of the history of the area, and I like to think I was the best interpreter there.”

He says one of the quarries is named after his grandfather, Joseph Taylor. Pipestone is an important sacred site to many Native American tribes. According to the National Park Service (NPS) website, the red pipestone there has been quarried by generations of American Indians to carve pipes used for prayer.

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Pipestone’s library is where Myron Taylor did a lot of research into his family’s past. He was a park ranger there for NPS and that was how he discovered his connection to the events in Mankato and the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.

“A lot of it has been suppressed,” Taylor told the Daily Globe. “Minnesota was not very proud of what happened, and the family felt the same way. They didn’t want anyone to know about it. My grandmother told my mother to raise her kids in the white world, because it was better off if you weren’t Native American. Course, it was the same with other cultures. The Germans [immigrants] didn’t want you to be German during World War II. They want you to be American.”

He’s proud of his heritage now and proud to be a fifth-generation pipe carver. “I’ve been doing it most of my life,” he told the Daily Globe. “I can take and make a nice pipe in under two hours. Some of the more elaborate pipes take a lot longer. I sell them through the Pipestone Indian Shrine Association, which is associated with the National Park Service.”

To read the full story on Myron Taylor, visit the Worthington Daily Globe website.

Related articles:

Legacy of Survival Brings Exiled Dakotas Home

Minnesota Historical Society Reflects on 150th Anniversary of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862