A newly published book co-edited by UALR English professor Zabelle Stodola has revived an important work on a bitterly contested war against the Dakota tribe in Minnesota.
The new edition of “A Thrilling Narrative of Indian Captivity: Dispatches from the Dakota War” rescues from obscurity a crucially important work about the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 and helps commemorate the 150th anniversary of the war.
The cover of the new edition is an image by Merlin Little Thunder, “They Always Prefer the Old Ways,” held in the Dr. J. W. Wiggins Native American Art Collection at UALR’s Sequoyah National Research Center.
Written in 1863 by Mary Butler Renville, an Anglo woman, assisted by her Dakota husband, John Baptiste Renville, “A Thrilling Narrative” was printed only once as a book and has not been republished since. The Renvilles’ unique perspective as an interracial couple allowed them to paint a complex picture of race, gender, and class relations on successive Midwestern frontiers.
The book’s reappearance in 2012 is one of many events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the war. This new edition is published by the University of Nebraska Press, which specializes in books on Native American subjects. Stodola collaborated with another non-Dakota editor, Carrie Reber Zeman. Dakota scholars Glenn Wasicuna and Gwen Westerman translated the letters written in the Dakota language by John Baptiste Renville, which are included in the book.
The publishing venture was made possible in part by a Legacy Grant from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.