President Lincoln’s Misunderstood Ethics Crisis: The Great Sioux Uprising

Dakota hanging

As part my so-far futile efforts to leave Ferguson in the rear view mirror, let’s revisit one of the Abraham Lincoln’s great ethical dilemmas during the Civil War, in which today’s date, December 1, was pivotal.

Minnesota’s Great Sioux Uprising, now usually called the Dakota-U.S. Conflict, was among the bloodiest Indian wars in the West, with hundreds of Native Americans, settlers and military casualties. The Sioux were defeated soundly, and the U.S. Army tried 303 Native Americans by military commission, finding them guilty of war crimes and sentencing them to death by hanging. Federal law required Presidential approval of the death sentences, and this was a problem Abraham Lincoln, the President at the time, did not need.

For it was 1862, and the Civil War was raging. This was a year full of Union defeats, indeed, disasters, like Fredericksburg, and both the war and Lincoln’s ability to lead it were in peril. Lincoln was also calculating all the political angles before issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. On top of the burdens of war and politics, he was coping with personal tragedy: his young son Willy had died nine months earlier, and Mary Todd Lincoln was teetering on emotional collapse from grief.
Now he had to decide whether to allow the execution of more than 300 Indians convicted in trials that were no better than kangaroo courts. Few Americans were concerned about the fate of the Native Americans, but Lincoln, with all of his other worries, took on the task of reviewing the trial records. What he found was manifest injustice. The commission had held hearings on the Sioux reservation and tried sixteen men the first day alone. After five weeks, the commission had conducted 392 trials, including one day that saw forty defendants tried. The accused were stood before the commission, often manacled together in groups, and were arraigned through an interpreter on charges ranging from rape and murder to theft. Many were only accused of the “war crime” of participating in battles. The commission did not permit the Dakota to have counsel for their defense.

He was being lobbied hard to sign the death orders. He could see that the convictions were flawed, but realized that the war, the Union, his leadership, the fate of slavery and his Presidency could not be sacrificed to the Indian wars. On December 1, 1862, he told Congress, “The State of Minnesota has suffered great injury from this Indian war,” signaling that he would not subject his leadership to a perhaps fatal dose of additional unpopularity by completely over-ruling the army. But it was a difficult choice for him.

Lincoln already had a well-established record of applying mercy to the cases of condemned men. In his review of death sentences for desertion, Lincoln over-ruled the trial courts at a rate of approximately 75 percent that steadily increased to 95 percent by the end of 1862. He was also forced to consider how a mass execution would play in France and especially Great Britain, which was then considering whether to recognize the Confederacy as an independent nation, and perhaps whether to provide it assistance.

Lincoln issued his decision in the Dakota cases on December 6, 1862. allowing the execution of only 38 of the 303 condemned combatants, and offered clemency to 265 of them— 87 per cent. On December 27, 1862 the thirty-eight Indians were hanged by Lincoln’s order. It was the largest mass execution in U.S. history, and you will see anti-American scholars, activists and others citing this fact as proof that America’s heroes, like Lincoln, were no more that conspirators in a the nation’s racist ways .It was just such an article that led my to investigate this little-known episode in Lincoln’s presidency, which focused on the fact that Lincoln presided over a mass execution of Native Americans.

It is a perfect example of how pure ethical conduct can become ambiguous, complicated and indeed impossible in the context of national leadership, and especially war. Those examining such difficult decisions long after they occurred are prone to do so using hindsight bias, and handicapped by various degrees of ignorance regarding the challenges of high-stakes leadership generally. It is certainly true that Lincoln was no lover of the Indians: he had fought against them in his only military experience, and like most men of his era, Lincoln was a believer in white superiority. Still, he deserves ethics praise and respect for taking the path of sparing as many as he thought would be politically palatable, recognizing the importance of his primary duty, winning the war, and his greater ethical mission of ending slavery. It was a great utilitarian challenge, and no President was better at navigating these than Abraham Lincoln.

Sources: JF Ptak Sciebce BooksHistory Net

33 thoughts on “President Lincoln’s Misunderstood Ethics Crisis: The Great Sioux Uprising

  1. Also, wouldn’t the Saint Patrick Battalion beat those mass executions? 50 some odd were found guilty of the same crime, in the same manner… I suppose their executions being spread out to different cities mitigates the “mass execution”, but the same group of guys for the same reason would qualify, no?

  2. As part of the Ferguson quarantine collective, I respond.

    Given the facts as you describe there are connected decisions which might be significant. President Lincoln decided not to prosecute or decry the methods used by Minnesota or the characters of those involved. He chose not to give credance to reports that the cause of the war had been skullduggery among the traders, and gave an excuse for this issue-ducking. Also President Lincoln did not choose to have any separate statement from the convicted after judgement, which in political trials is sometimes seen as powerful testimony. Saddam Hussain, Mandela, Caractacus
    “If you Romans choose to lord it over the world,
    does it follow that the world is to accept slavery? ”

    The key to his December 1st adddress is surely the last line regarding resettlement (which in principle led on to 1/2 of those remanded dying in internment and to Wounded Knee viia a trail of grief). “Many wise and good men have impressed me with the belief that this can be profitably done.”

    The scene was set in 1830 with resettlement, A King’s word is worth nothing. Only profit counts. Profit power and, in a republic, popularity. A President’s word is less than nothing. President Lincoln was a good man in evil times.. But what an evil. The first genocide.

    If you need an American Law hero for the moment then Daniel Webster looks good to me, compromises and all, Him Crocket or Sitting Bull “This nation is like a spring freshet; it overruns its banks and destroys all who are in its path” pity he spoke of the wrong nation.

    Quarantine failure-sorry. I did start out supportive but…

      • Most people have never heard of Daniel Webser either – ran, or tried to, for President 3 times I believe. A noted peacemaker, nationalst, elitist and anti-partisan, and lost a lot of political capital trying to avert a civil war.

        Caractacus : British barbarian warlord who when captured and brought to Rome in triumph reputedly made an appeal to emotion for clemency to Emperor Claudius – and reputedly won.

    • 1. Hell, I can sing a song that mentions Caractacus…maybe you can too.

      2. All of the rest is very interesting, but Abe had bigger fish to fry. The Sioux picked the wrong time to have an uprising, and that’s all there was to it. He did the best he could under the circumstances, and no other living politician would have done better.

      3. It wasn’t a genocide, because other than some isolated fanatics, genocide wasn’t the objective. Every treaty was made in good faith, and broken with heartfelt rationalizations. The Native Americans were doomed from the moment the Europeans landed—nothing could have saved them.

      4. Washington gave the Native Americans due warning and good advice: they ignored him. Sam Houston was sympatico.

      5. Most Americans do know Daniel Webster, especially in New England. After all, a cigar was named after him, and a famous story, “The Devil and Daniel Webster.”

        • Since the word “simpatico”, in Spanish, is an adjective, I would have to say non-simpatico. Or, to be even more politically correct, “No es simpatico”. In English, this becomes, in Mirabeau’s case, “You’re a turkey”, with apologies to the gobbler.

      • There’s a song?

        “The Native Americans were doomed from the moment the Europeans landed—nothing could have saved them.” Nothing except copying word for word the Treaty of Waitungi 1840 and sticking to it. Founding document of the great state of New Zealand.

        ‘The document has three articles. In the English version, Māori cede the sovereignty of New Zealand to Britain; Māori give the Crown an exclusive right to buy lands they wish to sell, and, in return, are guaranteed full rights of ownership of their lands, forests, fisheries and other possessions; and Māori are given the rights and privileges of British subjects’

        Not intentional other than from isolated fanatics like President Andrew Jackson you mean? I’ll withdraw ‘genocide; as a charge and call it land theft, ethnic cleansing and eugenic selection by impovershment.if that’s easier, Genocide still counts even if it’s done with tears, ethically.

        Daniel Webster and the Devil – Ahhh yes I remember the film vaguely.

        Bigger fish? Senator Webster would probably agree, but only in as much as making one nation is more important than any other issue. And I agree Lincoln may well have done better than any other man. Any man living that is. Which may be why good heroes die early- before they are disgraced.

        Good talking again. Thanks.

        • Something tells me that if New Zealand possessed the kind of material resources that North America offered (particularly the heartland of this continent), that the kind of immigrant onrush that was witnessed in North America would rapidly put the Maori treaty to stress and shreds fairly rapidly.

          • Also, educate me, but are not the Maori the only indigenous group to NZ? North America possessed what must have been hundreds of distinct tribes, most of who were just as quick to break a treaty as the European tribes who had began moving in (which doesn’t excuse treaty breaking by Europeans/Americans – rather shows how complicated the relationships were).

            Additionally “land theft” is an odd term to use with a people for whom “land ownership” was an alien concept.

            • Yes, land theft is inappropriate to handle these things when land ownership wasn’t previously known (hence Australia considering the land “terra nullius”), but on the one hand places like New Zealand did have ownership concepts for land, though of a different sort, and other places had entangled ownership of other things that got disrupted in passing.

              In New Zealand, trouble cropped up as the Maori thought they were selling the lifetime rights they were used to, and a later generation wanted a jubilee style return. (Technically, the Maori were not the only native people, but – by their own tradition – they themselves had wiped out the earlier Moriori, as the Scots did to the Picts by their tradition; however, modern thinking is that these were also Maori, apart from the Chatham Islanders who just got called the same when the Maori wiped those out after white men revealed their existence and the Maori took over a ship to sail there.)

              In Australia, most tribes had hunting rights over land that should in justice have been bought out, quit rent fashion. Recognising the tribes’ ownership of land now is in fact itself a form of cultural imperialism, forcing them to adopt an unfamiliar way of handling resources, and is likely to backfire just as the U.S. allotment movement did.

              Ironically, western custom could have handled all these things in a mediaeval way (feudal in England, clan in Scotland and Ireland – which also suffered from resource expropriation in the form of land appropriation in modern times). The problem wasn’t outside penetration of native lands but modernism that ruled out the old ways.

              • Thanks for the detaiis. I read an article recenty about Celtic Law and how land law, kin cooperatives to work and redistribute land, face value, contracts verbal and rank as a means of witness and judgement a prohibition on satirre, the bards who were separately allowed satire of persons of rank, and a whole social and political system co-existed with Norman/Saxon Latin based Law until a fairly late date in court and presumably a lot later by habit in the unlettered peoples.

                So maybe its not so much that ‘modernism ruled out the old ways’ in one move but that an ancient clash of agrarian investment in and therefore ownership of land clashing with hunter-gatherer and pastoralist lifestyles and then on top of that a wave of ‘modernity’ wth it’s enlightenment fed ideas of logic and ‘naturally subject races’.

                The indigenous peoples of North America from what I can quickly scan adapted readily to agriculture. The civilised nations having perhaps 200 years to learn it from celltc/saxon descended land workers from Europe from 1600

                It was the second wave modernsim enlightenment, capitlaism, arrogance and merciess greed that settled the fate of the 5 tribes – after that the rest had no hope.

                I find it ironic that at roughly the same time the agrarian poor of England, whose ‘ancient rights’ had been infringed in parts and changed by their own hands in parts since 1215 when they were possibly first mentioned in Latin Law (Magna Carta) were finally wiped out by enclosure. Although there are both larcenous and paternalisic interpretations of that too.

                So England enclosed Britain 1750 -1810 roughly in littte chunks? America settled it’s approach in 1830, in one sweep. It could have been diffferent. There were only 10 or so votes in the 1830 majoriy decison.

                Rationally agricultural output and population in both places grew enormously. But I’d say we lost something too – independence. The homesteader was a marked man as soon as he was created. Without common held forest around him to provide a secondary liveable income it was only a matter of time before ‘rationalisation’ cheats and liars caught up with him too, even when he wasn’t sold out by the purchase to start with..

                Sad. John Clare’s ‘The Fallen Elm’ and Sittting Bull’s summary of white men. Much the same.

                Sitting Bull 1877
                Yet hear me, friends! we have now to deal with another people, small and feeble when our forefathers first met with them, but now great and overbearing. Strangely enough, they have a mind to till the soil, and the love of possessions is a disease in them. These people have made many rules that the rich may break, but the poor may not! They have a religion in which the poor worship, but the rich will not! They even take tithes of the poor and weak to support the rich and those who rule. They claim this mother of ours, the Earth, for their own use, and fence their neighbors away from her, and deface her with their buildings and their refuse. They compel her to produce out of season, and when sterile she is made to take medicine in order to produce again. All this is sacrilege

                John Clare (talking I think in analogy of the people and coud as eassly be spekinjg of the 5 nations – as a tree)
                Self-interest saw thee stand in freedom’s ways –
                So thy old shadow must a tyrant be.
                Thou’st heard the knave, abusing those in power,
                Bawl freedom loud and then oppress the free;
                Thou’st sheltered hypocrites in many a shower,
                That when in power would never shelter thee.
                Thou’st heard the knave supply his canting powers
                With wrong’s illusions when he wanted friends;
                That bawled for shelter when he lived in showers
                And when clouds vanished made thy shade amends –
                With axe at root he felled thee to the ground
                And barked of freedom – O I hate the sound
                Time hears its visions speak, – and age sublime
                Hath made thee a disciple unto time.
                – It grows the cant term of enslaving tools
                To wrong another by the name of right;
                Thus came enclosure – ruin was its guide,
                But freedom’s cottage soon was thrust aside
                And workhouse prisons raised upon the site.
                Een nature’s dwellings far away from men,
                The common heath, became the spoiler’s prey;
                The rabbit had not where to make his den
                And labour’s only cow was drove away.
                No matter – wrong was right and right was wrong,
                And freedom’s bawl was sanction to the song.
                – Such was thy ruin, music-making elm;
                The right of freedom was to injure thine:
                As thou wert served, so would they overwhelm
                In freedom’s name the little that is mine.
                And there are knaves that brawl for better laws
                And cant of tyranny in stronger power
                Who glut their vile unsatiated maws
                And freedom’s birthright from the weak devou”

          • A treaty is ‘just a bit of paper’ Moltke the Elder 1914. We had a war about that very point.

            Mineral wealth and a fairly accessible near European location, maybe. The British Empire was a stinker.. The worst ever, almost. So yes, you are probably right.

            • The Maori peoples were several I believe. And internally war-like.
              Treaties were complex in North America I agree , But there was nothing subtle about the 1830 Removal or subsequent events that I can see. Theft is stil unethical even if you take things from a firm Proudhon Anarchist. You should not do what you believe you should not do.

              • But that’s just it – it didn’t start as “land theft” and only certain later instances could be called “land theft”, the first colonists typically made solid, and *generally* followed agreements with local tribes…agreements in which the local tribes “ceded” (but they didn’t cede as they didn’t believe they owned, merely agreed not to interfere with) land to the settlers. That isn’t theft.

                The Indian Removals were certainly rotten, especially given that they focused on a handful of tribes that were very rapidly becoming American.

                • The process was complex and no doubt there were isolated acts of mercy and heck of a lot of hard nosed trading and diplomacy. As you’d expect between equals. But when the books are closed an indigenous population of maybe 13 million went to what 3 millon today up from a minimum of maybe 300,000? That has to be accounted for.

                  • Yeah… Civilization ALWAYS displaces non-civilization. ALWAYS (except for minor hiccups where a civilization temporarily dissolves, but is almost always replaced again with another city-oriented society). As civilization acquires the arable land (as it ALWAYS will, either through conversion or victory), the uncivilized run out of food and can’t sustain reproduction. 13 mil to 3 mil doesn’t mean KILLED. And the # is dishonest…it doesn’t account for those who civilized and are essentially part of the general American population now (of which partially I’m one). In instances where natives were outright killed outside of an acceptable battle, yeah, civilization did wrong. But it wasn’t a wholesale slaughter, no matter how the re-historians spin it. Just like the Muslims are rapidly out-breeding the Europeans, in 50 years you can’t say the Muslims killed all those Europeans.

                    • Inevitably does not imply justly. And you can exterminate without killing – you can ‘let die’. In 1942 I believe the state of Punjab sufffered a terrible famine the administation was dstracted the local traders were greedy and cautious in releasing grain stocks 3.9 million dead IIRC. And the UK is responsible for every one of them . They were British subjects and they were apallingly badly served. Dead on our watch.

                      So I don’t understand the reluctance to face the past. Australia has fessed up, South Africa invented truth and reconciliation. If 13 million goes to 3 million then something happened.

                    • “So I don’t understand the reluctance to face the past. “

                      “The Indian Removals were certainly rotten, “

                      “In instances where natives were outright killed outside of an acceptable battle, yeah, civilization did wrong.”

                      Not good enough? Because I see no need to take responsibility for your shaky math. If indian society no longer had the calories available to sustain reproduction and therefore their birthrates plummeted to next to nothing, that IS NOT extermination like Hitler and the Jews. If their birthrates plummeted for any other reasons, as it isn’t just a caloric availability function, that still isn’t “extermination”.

                      I’m sorry, but taking responsibility for 10 million deaths implies direct action killed each and every one of those 10 million. Sorry, I don’t see it.

                      Passive deaths to disease, as some scholars would add into that number. Nope sorry, no responsibility there.

                      Again, numbers also do not account for those who did civilize and join the modern world and lost their ethnically isolated identity like almost every other immigrant group eventually did…

                      So yeah, American civilization did some bad things to the uncivilized on occasion, but they did not actively wreak 10 million casualties. Nope.

                    • Genocide – on reflection that tern is unhelpful and squabbling over it would be uninstructive, So I’ll instead say that the reduction from 13 million 1n the mid 1700’s to 300,000 in 1901 was wholly avoidable and largely culpable and to a degree intentional. That 13 million figure I believe includes the early deaths from smallpox in around 1600-1650 and the partial recovery of populations to previous food supply restrictions but even if the population had only been 3 million before 1830, there is a case to answer..

          • New Zealand did have resources of that sort. At one point, it had the most productive gold mine in the world. Sure, it didn’t offer sustained opportunities, but quite enough to bring in that sort of opportunist – if it had been possible.

  3. 1. Now the ladies of the harem of the court of King Catactacus, were just passing by…?

    Never heard it…I had to look that up. And probably a karaoke crowd favorite.
    I need to get out more.

    • Oh, much more familiar that that one:

      I am the very model of a modern Major-General,
      I’ve information vegetable, animal, and mineral,
      I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical
      From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical;
      I’m very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical,
      I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical,
      About binomial theorem I’m teeming with a lot o’ news,
      With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.

      I’m very good at integral and differential calculus;
      I know the scientific names of beings animalculous:
      In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
      I am the very model of a modern Major-General.

      I know our mythic history, King Arthur’s and Sir Caradoc’s;
      I answer hard acrostics, I’ve a pretty taste for paradox,
      I quote in elegiacs all the crimes of Heliogabalus,
      In conics I can floor peculiarities parabolous;
      I can tell undoubted Raphaels from Gerard Dows and Zoffanies,
      I know the croaking chorus from The Frogs of Aristophanes!
      Then I can hum a fugue of which I’ve heard the music’s din afore,
      And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore.

      Then I can write a washing bill in Babylonic cuneiform,
      And tell you ev’ry detail of Caractacus’s uniform:

      In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
      I am the very model of a modern Major-General.

      In fact, when I know what is meant by “mamelon” and “ravelin”,
      When I can tell at sight a Mauser rifle from a Javelin,
      When such affairs as sorties and surprises I’m more wary at,
      And when I know precisely what is meant by “commissariat”
      When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery,
      When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery
      In short, when I’ve a smattering of elemental strategy
      You’ll say a better Major-General has never sat a gee.

      For my military knowledge, though I’m plucky and adventury,
      Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century;
      But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
      I am the very model of a modern Major-General.

      • Oh! I missed out on so much American cultural literacy because I didn’t grow up in a normal Gilbert and Sullivan family. I grew up listening to Wagner. And I’ve been odd ever since.

        • Well, there’s New Zealand, Greek and US culture too in this one.

          [We join our operetta already in progress. The infamous Pirates of Pergamum have just seized a bevy of beautiful Mytilenean maidens, and are attempting to carry them off for matrimonial purposes. Gabrielle intervenes, with a recitative (well, it’s better than a pan flute solo):]

          Gabrielle :
          Hold, scoundrels! Ere ye practice acts of villainy
          Upon the peaceful and agrarian,
          Just bear in mind, these maidens of My-TIL-ene*
          Are guarded by a buff barbarian!
          Pirates :
          We’d better all rethink our cunning plan;
          They’re guarded by a buff barbarian.
          Maidens :
          Yes, yes, she is a buff barbarian.

          [Xena leaps in from the wings, with a tremendous war cry, does a mid-air somersault, and lands on her feet on the Pirate King’s chest.]

          Xena :
          Yes, yes, I am a buff barbarian! [The orchestra starts up.]
          I am the very model of a heroine barbarian;
          Through Herculean efforts, I’ve become humanitarian.
          I ride throughout the hinterland — at least that’s what they call it in
          Those sissy towns like Athens (I, myself, am Amphipolitan).
          I travel with a poet who is perky and parthenian*
          And scribbles her hexameters in Linear Mycenian*
          (And many have attempted, by a host of methods mystical,
          To tell if our relationship’s sororal or sapphistical).
          Chorus :
          To tell if their relationship’s sororal or sapphistical!
          To tell if their relationship’s sororal or sapphistical!
          To tell if their relationship’s sororal or sapphisti-phistical!
          Xena :
          My armory is brazen, but my weapons are ironical;
          My sword is rather phallic, but my chakram’s rather yonical*
          (To find out what that means, you’ll have to study Indo-Aryan*).
          I am the very model of a heroine barbarian!
          Chorus :
          To find out what that means, we’ll have to study Indo-Aryan–
          She is the very model of a heroine barbarian!
          Xena :
          I wake up every morning, ere the dawn is rhododactylous*
          (Who needs to wait for daylight? I just work by sensus tactilis*.)
          And ride into the sunrise to protect some local villagers
          From mythologic monsters or from all-too-human pillagers.
          I hurtle towards each villain with a recklessness ebullient
          And cow him with my swordwork and my alalaes ululient*;
          He’s frightened for his head, because he knows I’m gonna whack it–he’s
          Aware that his opponent is the Basileia Makhetes!

          [The music crashes to a halt, as the Chorus stares at Xena in utter confusion. She sighs.] It’s *Greek*. It means “Warrior Princess”! [Light dawns on the Chorus, and the music resumes.] Sheesh . . .

          Chorus :
          He knows that his opponent is the Basileia Makhetes!
          He knows that his opponent is the Basileia Makhetes!
          He knows that his opponent is the Basileia Makhe-makhetes,
          Xena :
          Because I’ve got my armor, which is really rather silly, on
          (It’s cut so low I feel like I’m the topless tow’rs of Ilion,
          And isn’t any use against attackers sagittarian*).
          I am the very model of a heroine barbarian!
          Chorus :
          It isn’t any use against attackers sagittarian —
          She is the very model of a heroine barbarian!
          Xena :
          In short, when I can tell you how I break the laws of gravity,
          And why my togs expose my intermammary concavity,
          And why my comrade changed her dress from one that fit more comfily
          To one that shows her omphalos* (as cute as that of Omphale*),
          And why the tale of Spartacus appears in Homer’s versicon*,
          [She holds up a tomato:]
          And where we found examples of the genus Lycopersicon*,
          And why this Grecian scenery looks more like the Antipodes,
          You’ll say I’m twice the heroine of any in Euripides!
          Chorus :
          We’ll say she’s twice the heroine of any in Euripides!
          We’ll say she’s twice the heroine of any in Euripides!
          We’ll say she’s twice the heroine of any in Euripi-ripides!
          Xena :
          But though the kinked chronology, confusing and chimerical
          (It’s often unhistorical, but rarely unhysterical),
          Would give a massive heart attack to any antiquarian,
          I am the very model of a heroine barbarian!
          Chorus :
          ‘Twould give a massive heart attack to any antiquarian —
          She is the very model of a heroine barbarian!

          [As the orchestra plays the final chords, a wild Xenaesque melee ensues, and the curtain has to be brought down.]

          Actually, “Mytilene” would properly be accented on the third syllable; Gabrielle always did have trouble with rhymes. (Mytilene, incidentally, is a city on the isle of Lesbos — the hometown of the poet Sappho, as a matter of fact. It is not clear what, if anything, Gilbert is trying to imply here.)
          parthenian : virginal.
          Linear Mycenian : Mycenian is the ancient dialect of Greek which was written in Linear B (a form of Greek writing that predates the adoption of the alphabet). The implication is that Gabrielle does her writing in Linear B; if Xena takes place around the time of the Trojan war, this is chronologically reasonable.
          yonical : “Yonic” is the female counterpart to “phallic”.
          Indo-Aryan : The language group consisting of Sanskrit and its close relatives. Both “chakram” and “yonic” are of Sanskrit derivation.
          rhododactylous : rosy-fingered. (Homer makes frequent reference to rhododaktulos eos — “rosy-fingered dawn”.)
          sensus tactilis : Latin for “the sense of touch”.
          “Alalaes” are war-cries (the Greeks spelled a Xena-like war cry as alala or alale) and “ululient” is a coined term, apparently meaning “characterized by ululation”.
          sagittarian : archer-like.
          omphalos : belly-button.
          Omphale : Legendary queen of Lydia. From context, we must assume that she had a cute belly-button; however, no known classical source seems to address this vital issue.
          versicon : a coined term, apparently meaning “collection of verse”.
          Lycopersicon : the biological genus to which tomatoes are >assigned. (The tomato is a New World plant, and was entirely unknown in the Old World in pre-Columbian times. Thus, having tomatoes in a Xenaish context is an even greater anachronism than having Homer tell the tale of Spartacus.)

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