151 Years Ago Today

26 Dec

Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies

The day after Christmas brings to mind a tragic event, pictured above, that took place not that far up the road to the Twin Cities.

The execution of 38 Dakota was not the final event of the U.S.-Dakota War, but it was arguably the most dramatic.

The war took place in August and September, 1862. Most immediately, it started because Dakotas on their reservation strung along the Minnesota River’s south bank were hungry. Their treaty annunity payment hadn’t come (and no one could say when it was coming), and traders at the Lower and Upper Agencies wouldn’t extend them credit. More fundamentally, the war started because Dakotas were under immense pressure–pressure to give up their land and traditions. The pressure fractured the tribe. Some–but by no means all–of the Dakotas resorted to violence.

At the time, most white Minnesotans, and most American citizens (including Congress and President Abraham Lincoln)…

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