Review – Pond Mission Signs

Located at Pond-Dakota Mission Park, Bloomington Minnesota
These signs can be viewed at:
Reviewed on October 24, 2008

 General Comments

  • Disrespectful – The Presbyterian missionaries and their missions are discussed while the other missionaries and missions are ignored. The visitor is misled into thinking the Presbyterians were the only missionaries among the Dakota.
  • Unbalanced – What happened to the Dakota after the Dakota War is discussed. What happened to the whites after the war is not discussed.


Most Objectionable Statements

 Changing Landscapes 

Gideon and Agnes Pond House 

Oak Grove Mission 

…the treaty of Mendota led to the relocation of the Dakotas to a strip of land further west along the Minnesota River.
—Incorrect – At 20 miles wide and a combined total of 150 miles long, the 1851 reservations were hardly a strip of land.

The Pond brothers remained sympathetic to the Dakota, though skeptical of their future under the annuity system.
—What does this mean? – “skeptical of their future under the annuity system” 

Dakota life 

Seth Eastman painting – “Indian Village on the Mississippi near Fort Snelling, 1848”
—They appear to be gathering wild rice. Interpretation is needed. 

Many Dakotas consider the Minnesota River Valley to be their spiritual home.
—What does this mean? – “spiritual home” 

The Dakotas were drawn to the area to secure their territory of influence against the westward pressing Ojibwe…
—Incorrect – They were forced to migrate here by the Ojibwe.

The Dakota Villages of the Lower Minnesota River Valley 1834 – 1853 Map
—Incorrect – Mazomani’s village should be next to the rapids.
—Incorrect – Cloudman’s village should be on Lake Calhoun.

Seth Eastman painting – “Ball Play of the Dahcota Indians”
—What sort of game are they playing? Interpretation is needed.

Following the treaties of Traverse des Sioux and Mendota (1851) and in the aftermath of the U.S. – Dakota War (1862-1863), most of the Dakota were removed from this area and banished from Minnesota.
—Incorrect – Removal from this area happened after the Treaty of Mendota.
—Incorrect – The Dakota War began and ended in 1862.
—Incorrect – Banishment from Minnesota happened in 1863.

They were forced to live on reservations, scattered throughout the Dakotas and Nebraska. Others fled to Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
—Unbalanced – Some were moved to Faribault in 1863.
—Unbalanced – Some families remained; their men as scouts for the U.S. Army.

The U.S. Government and later some Christian denominations tried to force the Dakota to assimilate through boarding schools that prohibited them from speaking their native language or practicing their native spiritual beliefs and customs.
—Incorrect – Generally, Dakota children were not removed from good homes and forced to go to boarding schools. The boarding schools also aided families who needed help in caring for their children. 

However, some Dakota people continued to live in this Oak Grove area until the 1890s, protected by Gideon Pond and his descendants.
—What does this mean? – Why did they need protection?

Minnesota River Valley 

Dakota missions on the Minnesota frontier 

 —Incorrect and disrespectful – It is misleading to omit the missions of the other denominations.  The visitor is misled into thinking only the Presbyterians had missionaries and missions among the Dakota.

 The success of the missionaries in converting Dakota Indians to Christianity was modest until the 1862 U.S.-Dakota war confirmed the authority of the United States government over the land and lives of Indian people, including the prohibition of practicing Native American religions until the 1970s.
—Incorrect – Stating that the war “confirmed the authority of the United States government over the land and lives of Indian people” suggests that this is why the Indians converted.  They converted because they believed the God of the whites was more powerful than their own gods. 
—Incorrect – Dakota traditional religion was not prohibited until many years after the war.

Map – The Primary Dakota Missions and Dakota Villages of Minnesota
—Incorrect – The Lac qui Parle Mission should be plotted on the north side of the river.
—Incorrect – The Zoar Mission should be to the left and above the Wacouta and Wabasha villages.
—Incorrect – The Traverse des Sioux Mission should be above the Red Iron village
—Incorrect – The Cloudman village should be on the southeast shore of Lake Calhoun.
—Incorrect – The Lake Calhoun mission should be on the east or southeast shore of Lake Calhoun.
—Incorrect – The Lake Harriet Mission should be on the north shore of Lake Harriet. 

The Lac qui Parle Mission (near Montevideo)

 In 1854 some of the buildings burned down, and the missionaries decided to close the mission.
—More correctly stated, they decided to move their mission to the Upper Agency area. 

The Traverse des Sioux Mission (near St. Peter) 

The Kaposia Mission (South St. Paul) 

The Pajutazee Mission (near Granite Falls) 

Many of his converts there were leading members of the farmer-Indian faction.
—What does this mean? – “farmer-Indian faction” 

The Zoar Mission (near Morton) 

The mission was temporarily closed at the outbreak of the U.S. Dakota War of 1862 and resumed operation in November 1862. Shortly thereafter, its members were marched under armed guards to the Fort Snelling Dakota Internment Camp.
—Incorrect – Members and non-members were taken to Fort Snelling.
—Incorrect – Most if not all were in wagons or on horseback.
—Incorrect – The guards protected the Dakota from the angry whites. 

Missionaries to the Dakota 

Gideon Pond 

With Dr. Thomas S. Williamson, he baptized nearly 300 Dakota prisoners on February 1, 1863, at Mankato in the aftermath of the U.S. Dakota War. 
—Disrespectful – Here and elsewhere, the role of the Christian Dakota in the conversion of Dakota to Christianity needs to be discussed.
—Disrespectful – Other missionaries were also involved in the Dakota camps after the war. They need to be discussed.

In an article written by Dr. Thomas S. Williamson and printed in the St. Paul and Minneapolis Pioneer Press on January 30, 1878, he states, “370 Santees have settled at Flandreau, South Dakota and are very successful farmers, well educated, many are citizens and most should be but for unjust laws, and a very large proportion are Christians.
—What does this mean? – “Santee”
—What does this mean? – “unjust laws” 

Thomas S. Williamson

 By 1866 he [Thomas Williamson] had obtained freedom for all the remaining prisoners.
—Is this correct? – Did Williamson do this without help from others? 

John P. Williamson

 He accompanied the 1,300 Dakota women, children and elderly who were banished from Minnesota and sent to the barren wasteland of Crow Creek, Dakota Territory, in 1863, where approximately 300 Dakotas died within the first three months.
—Incorrect – There were also younger Dakota men in the group taken to Crow Creek.
—Disrespectful – Episcopal missionary Samuel Hinman also accompanied them. 

Pond Family heritage timeline

 Native American Indians no longer roamed free but were confined to reservations and prohibited from practicing their own religion.
—Incorrect – While on the Minnesota reservations, they were allowed to roam free.
—Incorrect – While on the Minnesota reservations, they were allowed to practice their traditional religion.

Broken treaty promises, late annuity payments, a conflict between traditional and farmer Indian factions, and an incident in which four young Dakota men killed white settlers near Acton, Minnesota, triggers the Dakota – U.S. War in which some Dakotas try to drive the whites out of the Minnesota River Valley.
—Incorrect – One sentence isn’t enough to discuss causes of the Dakota War of 1862.  The causes were many and complicated.
—Disrespectful – Gideon Pond’s writings are ignored. According to “The Evangelist”, March 12, 1863, Gideon Pond wrote, “At the time of the outbreak last August it appeared to me that the real cause of it was the desperate spirit of antagonism which Paganism feels towards Christianity.  All that I have been able to gather since has only served to confirm this opinion.”
—Disrespectful – The role of the Christian Indians in the Dakota War needs to be discussed.

This war claims the lives of more than 500 white settlers and an unknown number of Dakota.
—Incorrect – More than 650 whites were killed.
—Incorrect – By not estimating the number of Dakota deaths, the visitor cannot appreciate how unbalanced the war was against the whites.

Almost 400 Dakota warriors are imprisoned in Mankato. Thirty-eight of the warriors are hung in the largest mass execution in U.S. history.
—Incorrect – This was the largest simultaneous mass-execution.
—Unbalanced – This war was also the largest mass-murder of white civilians by Indians in U.S. history.
—Unbalanced – It must be stated why 38 were hanged and most of the others were exiled.

About 1,600 Dakota prisoners, mostly women, children and elderly who are “neutrals” and “friendlies,” are held in an internment camp near Fort Snelling where many die of measles and other diseases during the winter of 1862-63.
—Unbalanced – What about the tragic effects of the war on the whites? How many whites died after the war as a result of the war?

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