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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 a store in southwest Minnesota near the Minnesota River in the late part of his life.
Claim to fame
Myrick had stores at the Yellow Medicine and Redwood Agencies. When a group of Dakota Indians appeared at the Yellow Medicine Agency and started to take the food in the warehouse that was promised through annuity payments on August 4, 1862, Indian Agent Thomas Galbraith issued some of the food but told the Dakota the rest would have to wait until the money owed to them arrived. Payments to the Dakota Indians had not been made, partly because of delays caused by the American Civil War and a government preoccupied with the Second Battle of Bull Run, which threatened the safety of Washington D.C.
After the decision to wait to issue more of the annuity food was made by Galbraith, he turned to the store owners and workers and asked them what they were intending to do. Myrick had been informed that the "traders paper" that allowed the traders to be paid right from the annuity allotments for what they were owed on credit was not going to be allowed this time, so he responded that they would give no more credit at the stores and reportedly said, "So far as I am concerned, if they are hungry let them eat grass or their own dung." He made this retort while 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.
In the summer of 1862, eastern bands of Dakota Native Americans were living in a reservation along the southern bank of the Minnesota River. Two agencies were established to distribute food and other supplies to the Native Americans. In a meeting at the Upper Sioux Agency on August 4, the local agent for the Bureau of Indian Affairs directed food to be released in order to alleviate hunger among a community that was dealing with food shortages. Within days, the U.S. Dakota War began, leading to hundreds of deaths across southwest Minnesota. Myrick was killed on the first day of the War at the Battle of Lower Sioux Agency as Dakota warriors took revenge at the agency settlement. When his body was found days later, it was discovered that grass had been stuffed in his mouth.
- Nathan Myrick, Andrew Myrick's brother.
- 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.
- "Native History: Dakota Uprising Begins With 'Let Them Eat Grass!' - Indian Country Media Network". indiancountrymedianetwork.com. 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).
- Gary Clayton Anderson, "Myrick's Insult: A fresh look at myth and reality", Minnesota History, Minnesota Historical Society