Unrepentant Dakota Woman: Angelique Renville & the Struggle for Indigenous Identity, 1845-1876

Unrepentant Dakota Woman: Angelique Renville & the Struggle for Indigenous Identity, 1845 - 1876 by Linda M. Clemmons

Unrepentant Dakota Woman: Angelique Renville & the Struggle for Indigenous Identity, 1845-1876

  • Hardcover
  • South Dakota Historical Society Press (2023)
  • SKU: 9781941813485
Regular price $29.95
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Born in Minnesota in 1845 into a prominent mixed-blood Dakota family, Angelique Renville (1845–1876) initially learned traditional Dakota ways of life from her relatives while navigating the complex multi-cultural world of the declining fur trade.

At age six, she and her younger sister Agnes were adopted by Protestant missionaries Stephen and Mary Riggs, who did their utmost to erase her Dakota identity and educate her as a “proper” Christian woman. Despite the Riggs’s best efforts, Angelique remained close with her Dakota kin, especially her mother and siblings. After a frustrating year at a female seminary in Ohio, Angelique worked as a domestic servant for a Riggs family friend, ostensibly continuing her education.

The outbreak of the U.S.–Dakota War in 1862 and Agnes’s subsequent death at a U.S. Army prison camp changed everything. Returning to Minnesota, Angelique turned her back on the missionaries, entered a polygamous marriage with a Dakota man, and moved with her relatives to Dakota Territory, where she increasingly distanced herself from the Riggs family. In 1869, she took legal action to emancipate herself from the guardianship of Stephen Riggs and to seek legal redress against unscrupulous loan sharks who had illegally sold her lands. This was an extraordinary act for an American Indian woman of the time, and she faced a steep uphill battle in court. Until her untimely death from tuberculosis in 1876, Angelique Renville lived her adult years on her own terms.

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