Arts & Entertainment

Review: Tragic history of Dakota war examined for '38 Nooses'





"When the conflict between the Dakota nation and the white soldiers and settlers on the frontier of Minnesota came to an end in the fall of 1862, Gen. John Pope made clear that he intended to treat the Indians like "maniacs and wild beasts" and, if possible, exterminate them. He hastily impaneled a military court that sentenced 300 Indians to death.

In "38 Nooses," Scott Berg, a native Minnesotan who teaches creative writing at George Mason University, provides an engrossing account of this tragic episode in American history. Although President Abraham Lincoln issued 264 stays of execution, the bloody Dakota War and its bloody aftermath, Berg reminds us, were the product of pervasive perceptions among whites that Minnesota was now their state, that every act of Dakota violence, no matter what the provocation, "was the result of cultural deficiencies and racial wickedness," and that, with the Indians removed from the land they called home for 200 years, boom times were coming."

Get the Story:
NONFICTION: "38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow and the Beginning of the Frontier's End," by Scott W. Berg (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 12/2)