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Spirit Car

Artist - Author: 
Diane Wilson

Spirit Car is a moving account of Diane Wilson's journey to find her Dakota heritage. It captures the experiences of her many mixed blood Native American ancestors from the Lower Sioux Reservation on the Minnesota River, beginning before, during and after the Dakota War of 1962. This book brings to light the difficult decisions they had to make and how the mere fact of being a mixed blood aligned you with the enemy of either side. Her ancestors did what they had to do to survive.

What was her Dakota great-great grandmother, who married a white man at a time when it was thought to help relations between the Indians and whites, to do when the war broke out? She was taken to Fort Ridgely where she faced the hatred of many whites. Her children had signed up in the army to fight the civil war. Now they were faced with having to fight their own people, who vowed to kill all mixed bloods. This heart wrenching story beautifully illustrates how trapped the mixed bloods Indians must have felt.

I have been to Fort Ridgely and Fort Snelling, and I have read about the war of 1862. I knew many of the “facts” before I began reading, however Ms. Wilson's research and imagination brings you into the experience of what it was like for her ancestors so that you see their dilemmas and feel their pain in a way that I never thought of before.

I think it was her aunt who said, “We sat on a fence between white and Indian,” which I believe is how many mixed blood Indian's still feel today; they don't fully fit in with either culture. I highly recommend this book.

biography / memoirs
history / politics