Log in

Gabriel Renville

From the Dakota War to the Creation of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Reservation, 1825-1892

Gabriel Renville


$29.95, Hardback
ISBN: 978-1-941813-06-5

"Renville emerged as a shrewd leader and canny advocate for his people . . . Now historian Gary Clayton Anderson tells his story, a story that encompasses much of the nineteenth century. Anderson is especially strong in holding together the threads of Renville's complicated familial and tribal antecedents, as well as tracing his shifting roles as trader, scout, diplomat, lobbyist, and chief. . . . an important book that uses the biography of a leader to illuminate the complexities of what came after the Dakota conflict. In so doing, he has laid down a path for future historians to follow, tracing the many stories of human agency and resilience throughout the American Indian West."—Joseph C. Jastrzembski, North Dakota History

"Every student of the Dakota peoples should read this book."—Bill Markley, Western Writers of America Roundup Magazine

“Gary Clayton Anderson has written an important biography of Gabriel Renville. . . . This project adds to Anderson’s previous works . . . [and] Anderson can be commended for writing about a Dakota man who has received relatively little public attention. . . . [The biography] sheds light on a man who lived through a tragic period in Dakota history. Renville often made contradictory and controversial choices that he hoped would ensure his, and his people’s survival. Those choices reverberate into the present day.”—Linda M. Clemmons, The Annals of Iowa

"This book captured me from the first page. It tells the tale of the strength and courage of a man determined to help his people and what led up to the Dakota War of 1862 and the problems after."—Lakota Country Times

"An impressively informed and informative study, "Gabriel Renville" is especially and unreservedly recommended."—Midwest Book Review

"The work effectively captures the rise and realization of Gabriel Renville's vision for the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate."—Goodreads

“It is the anomalies that characterized his life that make him so fascinating. A man of mixed ancestry, he seemed to some a traitor to his Dakota people when he opposed fighting the whites in 1862. Yet, after the war, he worked diligently to reacquire land and standing for his people.”—Gary Clayton Anderson

Born on the shores of Big Stone Lake in modern-day South Dakota, Gabriel Renville (1825–1892) was a Sisseton-Wahpeton leader who opposed conflict with the United States during the Dakota War of 1862. He worked tirelessly to create and maintain a space for his people throughout his life.

Credited with the creation of the Lake Traverse Indian Reservation in 1867, Renville was a man of contrasts. Of European and Dakota descent, he adopted Christianity yet refused to abandon the Dakota Medicine Society. He held fast to kinship obligations even as he courted capitalism. He won favor among white missionaries and Indian agents for promoting their ideas about hard work even as he frustrated them with his love of dancing and feasting. He clung to traditional lifeways while also committing to the economic progress that made the Sisseton-Wahpeton reservation a prime example of what the Bureau of Indian Affairs called its “Civilization Program.”

Whether scouting under General Henry Sibley or serving as head chief of his people, Renville remained committed to traditional Dakota ethics even as he embraced the change he and others believed was needed to survive in the coming twentieth century. In the first-ever biography of Gabriel Renville, Gary Clayton Anderson scrutinizes primary sources to illuminate the life and motivations of the Sisseton-Wahpeton chief as he navigated a world in flux.

About the Author


Similar Books