A Minority in Their Homeland / U.S.-Dakota Conflict

A Minority in Their Homeland / U.S.-Dakota Conflict (HM1CKB)

Location: Fairfax, MN 55332 Nicollet County
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Country: United States of America
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N 44° 27.194', W 94° 44.094'

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A Minority in Their Homeland

For generations, the land stretching out around you was the homeland of the Dakota Indians. Through treaties in 1851, the Dakota sold all of their land in southern Minnesota. The treaties disregarded Dakota people's traditional decision-making processes and were written in a language they hardly knew. Making an "X" on a piece of paper was not the same as the Dakota way of taking council and obtaining the majority's consent.

After the signings, the Dakota were coerced onto reservations on the Minnesota River—but only until that land, too, was needed for white settlement. By 1860, white settlers in the Minnesota River Valley outnumbered the Dakota five to one. In a single decade, the Dakota people had become a minority in their homeland.

U.S.-Dakota Conflict

"We went down determined to take the fort," said Wambdi Tanka (Big Eagle). "If we could take it we would soon have the whole Minnesota valley."

One of the bloodiest U.S.-Indian wars was fought along the Minnesota River, from Upper Sioux Agency to New Ulm. Here at Fort Ridgely, soldiers and Dakota warriors battled for two days.

By the summer of 1862, Dakota families were on the verge of starvation. They had been waiting months for food promised them in government treaties. Tensions exploded on August 16, 1862, when Dakota leaders confronted Lower Sioux Agency trader Andrew Myrick demanding the food they had been promised. Myrick reportedly said they should "eat grass if they are hungry." Furious Dakota warriors attacked the agencies, towns, and settlers in the region. Myrick was one of the first to be killed, and his mouth was stuffed with grass.

The violence lasted more than a month. About 500 settlers and 80 soldiers were killed. Many Dakota were also killed, and hundreds died in the aftermath. Hundreds more were rounded up and incarcerated at Fort Snelling where at least 130 died, most of them children. All treaties were voided, and the Dakota people were exiled from the state. After a trial, 38 Dakota men were hanged in Mankato on December 26, 1862—the largest mass execution in U.S. history.

Minnesota Historical Society
Fort Ridgely
Series This marker is part of the Minnesota Historical Society series, and the Minnesota: Fort Ridgely Interpretive Series series.
Historical Period19th Century
Historical PlaceBattlefield, Fort, Military Installation, Monument, Park
Marker TypeOther
Marker ClassNeither
Marker StyleFree Standing
Placed ByMinnesota Historical Society
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 at 1:43pm PDT -07:00
Sorry, but we don't have a picture of this historical marker yet. The member who adopted this marker listing is responsible for adding pictures.
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15T E 361968 N 4923678
Decimal Degrees44.45323333, -94.73490000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 44° 27.194', W 94° 44.094'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds44° 27' 11.6400" N, 94° 44' 5.6400" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)507
Can be seen from road?Yes
Is marker in the median?No
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling West
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 6 Co Hwy 30, Fairfax MN 55332, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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