November 2019 – Native American Heritage

RCHS Facebook Posts from November 2019 – Native American Heritage Month:
Dr. Charles Eastman & Cloud Man

Explore history with these snippets from past Facebook posts from the RCHS page.

Posts, event announcements, etc. have been edited for clarity and relevance.

We are celebrating Native American History Month in November by highlighting the triumphs and challenges of two influential Dakota leaders from the same family, Dr. Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa), and his great-grandfather, Cloud Man (Mahpiya Wicasta), who was a friend of Jane Debow Gibbs (original owner of Gibbs Farm with her husband Heman). These two amazing men influenced Ramsey County and our country. We hope that you will enjoy learning more about them and their family.
Image: Dr. Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa) and Cloud Man (Mahpiya Wicasta).

Native Americans, in what would become Ramsey County, left evidence behind as they lived, fished, and traveled between the Mississippi River and Carver Lake. Evidence from two archaeological sites along Fish Creek in Maplewood includes fragments of broken cooking pots and chipping debris from stone tools. Flintknapping (the making of tools) is done with locally available stone and involves skillfully striking the edge of one rock with another to drive off chips to create a knife, scrapper, or projectile point (arrowhead). The razor-sharp edges can penetrate animal skin when attached to a shaft with sinew or tree cord.
Image: A chert projectile point from nearby Kohlman Lake in Maplewood. Information and photograph courtesy of Maplewood Historical Society, from a project sponsored by the Ramsey County Historical Society.

Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa) was a brilliant physician, writer and advocate for Native American rights. He attended Beloit College and Dartmouth before earning his medical degree at Boston School of Medicine. On November 1, 1890, he was appointed the U.S. government physician to the Pine Ridge Agency, S.D. There he met and married Elaine Goodale, who was Supervisor of Education in the two Dakotas. Charles and Elaine worked together to care for the injured Dakota people who survived the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre. Wounded Knee caused Charles to lose faith in the government, reinforced when reparations to the people of Pine Ridge Reservation were appropriated by the agent. Charles stood up to this injustice and was forced to resign. He and Elaine then moved to Saint Paul.
Image: Dr. Charles Alexander Eastman in about 1920.

Dr. Charles Eastman thought of Minnesota as home. His great-grandfather, Mahpiya Wicasta (Cloud Man) had created a multi-ethnic village at the then-named Lake Calhoun (now renamed Bde Make Ska). Raised by his grandparents in a traditional Dakota community in Canada, Charles shared stories of his upbringing and culture in a number of popular books and children’s stories that portrayed Dakota life and narratives, some of the first from a writer of the community. Charles went on become a strong advocate for Native rights, contributed service to the Boy Scouts and the YMCA, often traveling to Washington D.C and throughout the country, always presenting the point of view of his Dakota community.
For more about Charles and Elaine Eastman, see the Ramsey County History magazine article for Spring 2018.

The connection between RCHS, Gibbs Farm and Dr. Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa) is through his mother’s friendship with Jane Gibbs. Jane and Winona, (Wakantankawin, Great Spirit Woman) Ohiyesa’s mother and granddaughter of Mahpiya Wicasta (Cloud Man), were good friends when Jane was living near Lake Harriet from 1835-1839. Jane reunited with Mahpiya Wicasta and the Dakota when she returned to Minnesota after marrying Heman Gibbs in 1849. Although Winona had died in childbirth and there doesn’t seem to be records of Jane ever meeting Ohiyesa, Jane and Mahpiya Wicasta remained lifelong friends. For more on Jane Gibbs and her connections to the Dakota people, see the Ramsey County History magazine articles for Spring 2000 and Spring 1996.
Image: Jane DeBow Gibbs, about 1885. From the RCHS Collection

In 1829, Cloud Man (Mahpiya Wicasta) settled with his community at a spot on Bde Maka Ska (Lake Calhoun). The community was supported by agent Lawrence Talliaferro, who had married one of Mahpiya Wicasta’s (Another daughter was the first wife of Seth Eastman, the well-known painter and commander of Fort Snelling, and was the grandmother of Charles Eastman). Cloud Man maintained this village for about 10 years, helping his people learn to farm, and opening his village to Protestant missionaries Gideon and Samuel Pond, among others.
Image: Painting by George Catlin, between 1835-1836.

In 1839, after the deaths of his son-in-law, brother-in-law and nephew during a Dakota-Ojibwe conflict, Cloud Man moved his village to what is now part of Bloomington. In 1851 Cloud Man was one of the signers of the Mendota treaty, and was removed with his people to a reservation near Shakopee. Then over 60, Cloud Man lived there for a number of years, but during the 1862 Dakota Conflict, he was interned at Fort Snelling. Cloud Man (Mahpiya Wicasta) died there and is buried near the junction of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, south of the Fort. More on Cloud Man and his life at the article for Spring 2001.
Image: Timeline for Cloud Man, spanning over 20+ years. 1839 – what is now Bloomington; 1851 – near Shakopee; 1862 – Fort Snelling.

Thank you for following as we’ve explored a bit about the lives of these important Dakota leaders. We hope that these posts have brought some hidden history to light, and inspired you to learn more. We are proud of our partnership with the Dakota community, and invite you to visit Gibbs Farm to learn more about the lifeways of Native Americans in our area.


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