Published on June 2, 2012 by Amy
Gabriel Renville (1824 – 1892) was Chief of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe from 1866 until his death in 1892. As part of a large fur-trader family of French and Sioux origins, he was an unlikely candidate as Chief of the Sisseton-Wahpeton. However, with the coming of the Dakota War of 1862, his fortunes changed. Thanks to his family’s connections, he obtained in 1863 the post of Chief of Scouts in the service of Minnesota state militia Colonel Henry Hastings Sibley–later first governor of the state of Minnesota. His service to the U.S. Army ended in 1865. For his loyalty he was appointed by Sibley as Chief of the Sisseton-Wahpeton in 1866. His people seconded Sibley’s appointment a year later by declaring Renville chief-for-life. His tenure as chief saw the creation and dissolution of the Lake Traverse Reservation and the transition of his people into the modern world. He is buried atop a bluff near Old Agency, South Dakota.
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Gabriel Renville’s father was killed by Chippewas, and the boy grew up in the care of his uncle, Joseph Renville.