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Andrew J. Myrick (May 28, 1832 – August 18, 1862), was a trader who, with his Dakota wife (Winyangewin/Nancy Myrick), operated stores in southwest Minnesota at two Indian agencies serving the Dakota (referred to as Sioux at the time) near the Minnesota River.
In the summer of 1862, when the Dakota were starving because of failed crops and delayed annuity payments, Myrick is noted as refusing to sell them food on credit, saying, "Let them eat grass." A Dakota band led by Chief Little Crow went to war against the agency settlements, and Myrick was killed on the first day. His body was found with his mouth stuffed with grass.
In the summer of 1862, eastern bands of the Dakota people were living in a small reservation along the southern bank of the Minnesota River. Their crops had failed and the area had been overhunted, and they were starving. In a meeting at the Upper Sioux Agency on August 4, US Indian Agent Thomas Galbraith directed that only some food be released to the Dakota from the warehouse, as annuity supplies and payments had been delayed by the American Civil War and a government preoccupied with the Second Battle of Bull Run, which threatened the safety of the capital, Washington D.C.
Andrew Myrick had stores at both Yellow Medicine (also known as the Upper Sioux Agency) and Redwood (Lower Sioux Agency). After Galbraith decided against issuing more of the annuity food, he turned to the store owners and workers and asked them what they were intending to do. Myrick had been told that the "traders paper", which allowed the traders to be paid directly from the annuity allotments for what they were owed on credit by Native Americans, was not going to be allowed this time.
He said that the owners would give no more credit to the Dakota and reportedly said, "So far as I am concerned, if they are hungry let them eat grass or their own dung." He was involved in a confrontation between Dakota tribesmen, the United States government, and other traders. His comment is considered an inciting factor in the Dakota War of 1862 that began shortly thereafter.
On August 17, Chief Little Crow led his warriors against European American settlements, beginning the U.S. Dakota War. It resulted in the deaths of nearly 500 whites and 150 Dakota warriors across southwest Minnesota.
Myrick was killed on the first day at the Battle of Lower Sioux Agency, where Dakota warriors took revenge at the agency for its failure to give them food. When his body was found days later, his mouth was stuffed with grass.
- Nathan Myrick, Andrew Myrick's brother.
- Folwell, William Watts (1921). A history of Minnesota. St. Paul, Minnesota: St. Paul, Minnesota Historical Society. p. 233. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
- "Native History: Dakota Uprising Begins With 'Let Them Eat Grass!' - Indian Country Media Network". indiancountrymedianetwork.com. Retrieved 2018-02-28.
- Dillon, Richard (1993). North American Indian Wars. City: Booksales. p. 126. ISBN 1-55521-951-9.
- Radio, Minnesota Public. "MPR: "Let them eat grass"". news.minnesota.publicradio.org. Retrieved 2018-02-28.
- Return Ira Holcombe; Minnesota Valley Historical Society (1902). Sketches, historical and descriptive, of the monuments and tablets erected by the Minnesota Valley Historical Society in Renville and Redwood counties, Minnesota: to preserve the sites of certain incidents and in honor of the devotion and important services of some of the characters, whites and Indians, connected with the Indian outbreak of 1862. Minnesota Valley Historical Society. p. 13. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
- Douglas Linder. "The Dakota Conflict Trials of 1862", (1999), Law School, University of Missouri-Kansas City.
- Gary Clayton Anderson, "Myrick's Insult: A fresh look at myth and reality", Minnesota History, Minnesota Historical Society