John and Anna Shoto

By David R. Schleper

ShotoJohn Shoto (also called Shodo) was born at Wabasha in March 1798, and remained with the band of Chief Wabasha until he was 25 years old. At that point, he joined the Red Wing band of Dakotas, serving with Chief Redwing near Barns Bluff for 15 years, according to Dr. David Laframboise.

Shoto came up the Minnesota River and was a brave in the Ŝakpedan or Little Six band in Tiŋta-otoŋwe, later called Shakopee. After the Dakota Uprising in 1862, Shoto became a scout under Governor Sibley. He served from 1862 to 1870. In 1872, Shoto returned to Shakopee as chief of the Little Six band.

In the beginning of January 1899, Old Shoto was about town, peering out of his almost sightless eyes and now and again saying “Hau! Hau!” to all who gave him a merry greeting. Hau is Dakota for “hello.”

Nearly everyone in Shakopee and Scott County knew Old Shoto, and many pioneer settlers in other parts of the state remembered the old Dakota scout. It is also interesting to hear how smart Shoto was. He used to stop at various houses of rich people in downtown Shakopee. He would ask for food. If the housekeeper was there, she would fill his plate with lots of food, and Shoto was happy. When the woman of the house would answer the door, Shoto asked for food, and one rich woman would look disgustingly at him, and would give him two pieces of bread and little more. Shoto would point to his throat, gesture that he had a sore throat, and then would leave. He knew he could find something better at other houses, where the people were friendlier.

Fr. J.J. Girrimondi of St. Mary’s Catholic Church baptized Shoto, who was one of Ŝakpe’s braves, in 1895.

The 1880 census noted that Shoto was born in 1813, and was 67 years old and living in Shakopee. The 1895 census noted that he was 91 years old, born around 1804, and living in Eden Prairie. In an issue of the Scott County Argus, editor C.G. Bowdish noted that his age is a matter for some conjecture, and is variously placed at from 102 to 109 years old. “There is a large painted portrait of him in a Minneapolis house on Nicollet Avenue that is labeled ‘109 Years Old,’ but from his own reports and the traditions of the Sioux, he was probably about 105 at the time of his death,” noted Bowdish.

According to Eden Prairie: A Brief History, Chief Shoto died in January 1899 at the age of 99 at his home in the American Indian settlement in Eden Prairie (across from Shakopee, on the north side of the river.) He died within the walls of his beloved tipi at the reservation east of town at 3 p.m.

His wife, Anna, survived him, and died at the age of 90. Their daughter, Caroline Moore, died as an infant in 1830, and was buried in the Valley Cemetery in the pauper field (next to Dan Eddings, the African American who lived, worked, and died in Shakopee).

He also left two (or four) grandchildren. Fr. Flemming of St. Mary’s Church in Shakopee buried old Shoto, who had been converted by his predecessor.

And now you have a little bit of information about John Shoto, who was a good friend with Ŝakpedan!

(Some information from Eden Prairie: A Brief History, by Marie Wittenberg, 2010, The History Press; The Shakopee Story by Julius A. Coller, II; Shakopee Tribune, Jan. 27, 1899; Scott County Argus, Jan. 26, 1899; Jordan Independent, Feb. 2, 1899.)

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