"The next time you check with your school board, see if Minnesota history is still being taught. And if it is, if these three treaties are taught. There is so much more about the history of this state being intertwined with the history of the mighty midwestern tribes."
\My wife and I have been getting lusty as of late. That is what we called it when we get wanderlust. Like in travel. After seeing a very good movie about Chief Sitting Bull a few days ago, and how the table for the battle of Wounded Knee was set, we talked about visiting Upper Sioux Agency State Park once again. The last time we journeyed out there, we were impressed by the amount of history that park contained. But was a blistering hot July day, and thereby our visit was truncated.
Minnesota history is steeped with Native culture. How so? Prior to statehood (and then shortly thereafter), a good portion of the state belonged to the Sioux. How Minnesota came to be a settled state with defined boundaries, involved a series of treaties, some innocent blood being spilled, and the Dakota War of 1862. That war led to the destruction of the Upper Sioux Agency Reservation and ended up with the largest mass execution in United States history. 38 Dakota men were hanged after their trial in Mankato, Minnesota.
Now I am going to get on my education soapbox once again. One history professor decried the fact that very few people who live in Minnesota understand, or know about three of the most important treaties in Minnesota history. Why are these three treaties so important? First off, a good portion of central and northern Minnesota came out of those treaties. For fishing rights? Nope - white pine logging. What did the Sioux get out of those treaties? Not much - except hunting and fishing rights which will stretch to perpetuity.
The Treaty of 1837 is the one which has been in the news the most lately. Why? Perpetuity of fishing rights on Lake Mille Lacs. This treaty signed over a huge portion of central Minnesota to the United States Government - including Lake Mille Lacs. But hold the phone - there is also a bunch of ceded territoriality therein. With the multi-million dollar walleye sport fishing tourist industry on Mille Lacs shrinking as fast as the walleye population is, the Treaty of 1837 has been looked at and challenged in federal court more than once. So far, the treaty has survived all legal challenges.
The Treaty of 1854 has ramifications today. Why? It signed over the arrowhead region of the state to the government. Why was there interest in that gorgeous part of the state? For the canoeing in the countless pristine lakes? Nope - the same reason there is so much interest up there right now. Mining. Copper mining. Sound familiar? In any event, the U.S. Government got it for a song. And - the tribe received perpetuity of fishing and hunting rights.
Point of interest. The same Sioux Chief negotiated both the Treaties of 1837 and 1854. His name was Chief Hole-in-a-Day. Anyone who has traveled to Brainerd and gone by Gull Lake might have seen the smaller lake right next to Gull. It is Lake Hole-in-a-Day, named after that famous chief.
There was one more treaty - the Treaty of 1855 which garnered another big chunk of central Minnesota. By the time these three treaties were done, ownership of the state was pretty well set. The government got most of the land, and the tribes received small impoverished reservations and very little cash. Was that right? Was that just? That will be the topic for another day.
The next time you check with your school board, see if Minnesota history is still being taught. And if it is, if these three treaties are taught. There is so much more about the history of this state. It is intertwined with the history of the mighty midwestern tribes. This article barley scratched the surface.