Wamditanka (Big Eagle)
Also known as Jerome Big Eagle, Wamditanka was born in 1827 at Black Dogs village, a few miles above Mendota on the south bank of the Minnesota River. He succeeded his father, Grey Iron, as chief in 1857; the next year he joined the community of Mdewakanton farmers at the Lower reservation. When war came he led many of his community into war against the U.S. He was imprisoned after a conviction by the Military Commission, but his sentence was commuted to a prison term by President Lincoln. After several years living on reservations, Wamditanka and his family returned to Minnesota where he lived until 1906.
On the pages below are segments from Wamditanka's 1894 newspaper interview with Return I. Holcombe, which was translated by Nancy McClure Huggan and Rev. John Eastman. As you read them, think about what Wamditanka says about his motives for going to war in 1862.