This year marks 150 years since the Sioux Uprising, or the Dakota War, of 1862.
The uprising was a six-week armed conflict along the Minnesota River, beginning on Aug. 17, 1862, between the Dakota and white settlers and later involving the U.S. Army. It ended on Dec. 26 of that same year in Mankato, Minn., with the President Abraham Lincoln-sanctioned hanging of 38 Dakota men in the largest single-day mass execution in U.S. history. The executions led to the eventual surrender of the Dakota people.
Now, Lyle Miller Sr., a Yankton Sioux Tribe member, is honoring his fallen ancestors in the most respectful way he can – through his art.
“I’ve been doing a lot of things with Native American spirituality, predominantly paintings that have to do with the hanbleca, the seeking a vision,” said Miller.
Lately, he’s been painting on canvas via acrylic paints to create his work, but he also specializes in bronze work.
Miller recently had an art show at Crow Creek Tribal Schools’ year-end powwow. His work has been acquired and showcased in various locations, most notably in an upcoming exhibit by the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul.
The historical society has commissioned the 47-year-old artist and teacher to create a piece for a gallery that will commemorate the Sioux Uprising.
According to their website, the MHS, founded in 1849, “collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing.”
The Minnesota History Center, which serves as the headquarters for the Minnesota Historical Society, will showcase documents, artifacts, and artwork related to the Sioux Uprising and will examine its aftermath in this sesquicentennial year. The new exhibit – including Miller’s work – is scheduled to open to the public on June 30.
Miller says he is really proud of the work he contributed for the exhibit.
“They see that the descendants (of the Sioux Uprising) are alive and well after that terrible event – our people are still alive,” said Miller.
Miller credits his kindergarten teacher from Mitchell with introducing him to the art world. He recalled being withdrawn as a kid, and his teacher encouraged him to draw pictures in order to better express himself. “Once I knew what I could do with my hand and eyes, then put it down on paper, it took off like wildfire,” he said.
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