Review – MHS FS More Signs

Fort Snelling Historic Site More Signs Managed by Minnesota Historical Society Reviewed on June 19, 2013
Updated on March 17, 2016

Items of Interest

Two previous Fort Snelling Trail signs have been reviewed. See “Review – MHS FS Trail Signs” under the Signs category.  The first 4 signs can be found in the Fort Snelling lobby. The last sign is located on the trail between the lobby and the fort.

 General Comments


Most Objectionable Statements

 [Painting] – The St. Peters River near its Confluence with the Mississippi, by Seth Eastman, ca. 1848

The junction of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers is a place of major social, cultural, and historical significance to all people inhabiting the region long before Europeans arrived on this continent. It is called B’dote, and is a sacred place to Dakota people as the location of sacred sites, including the site of the Mdewakanton Dakota creation story.
—Incorrect – It cannot be proven that it was a place of major social, cultural, and historical significance to all people.
—For more information on the word Bdote see “Definitions” on the top bar.
—Incorrect – There is more than one Dakota creation story. That this was a place of creation is a relatively recent claim. See Dahlheimer,

The Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires of the Dakota Nation) are comprised of seven distinct groups.
—In 1862, “Dakota Nation” meant the same as “Sioux Nation.” Today, Dakota is defined as the Mdewakanton, Wahpekute, Sisseton and Wahpeton Bands. Here the Dakota developed a way of life that answered their physical needs and provided a sense of connection with one another and the world around them.
—What does this mean? …U.S. government corruption and “Indian policies”, the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, and forced removal from Minnesota changed Dakota life forever.
—Disrespectful – If anyone is criticized, proof should be given.
—Incorrect – Killing more than 650 whites during the Dakota War is the reason for their removal.

[Painting] – Historic Fort Snelling on the bluffs at the junction of the Mississippi and St. Peter’s (now Minnesota) River, by John Casper Wild, ca. 1844

—No comment 

[Photo] – Dakota internment camp along the river bottom below Fort Snelling, ca. 1862-63

The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 is a significant event in Minnesota’s history…some traders at the Indian Agencies refused to extend credit for food and other necessities…crop failures left many starving.
—Disrespectful – Some of the traders stopped giving credit because they learned that many of the Dakota planned to refuse to pay their debts.
—Incorrect – The crop failures occurred in 1861. 1862 promised a bumper crop.

On Aug. 17, 1862 a group of Dakota attacked and killed settlers living near Acton, Minnesota, and the war began the following day. Over a six week period hundreds of civilians and soldiers, as well as an unknown number of Dakota, were killed and millions of dollars in damage was done.
—Incorrect – The settlers were in Acton Township. There was no Acton, Minnesota.
—Incorrect – The causes of the Dakota War were many and more complicated than this.
—Incorrect – About 145 Dakota were killed. By not estimating Dakota deaths, the visitor is led to believe that more Dakota died than this.

A military commission tried and convicted 303 Dakota men, suspected of killing or assaulting civilians, and sentenced them to death…38 men were hanged in Mankato on December 26, 1862 in the largest mass execution in U.S. history.
—Incorrect – These were not all Dakota men.
—Incorrect – Killing and assaulting civilians were not the only charges that led to conviction.
—Incorrect – It was the largest simultaneous mass-execution in U.S. history.

The rest of the approximately 1,600 Dakota non-combatants (mostly women, children and the elderly) were forcibly removed to Fort Snelling where they spent the winter of 1862-63 in an internment camp, often refered to as a concentration camp, awaiting deportation.
—Incorrect – They were not forcibly removed.
—Incorrect – A few people call this a concentration camp to evoke images of Nazi concentration camps.
—Incorrect – refered
—Incorrect – They were waiting for a decision as to what would happen to them.

Between 130 and 300 people died within the stockade, due mostly to malnutrition and disease, and those remaining were deported to western reservations in the spring of 1863.
—Incorrect – The lowest number reported was 102 by the U.S. Army.
—Incorrect – Prove that any died of malnutrition.
—Incorrect – Not all of those remaining were deported. 

[Photo] – Historic Fort Snelling at dawn. Photo by Joe Michl.

 To many Dakota people it is a place of cultural importance as the site of their creation story…
—Incorrect – There is more than one Dakota creation story. That this was a place of creation is a relative recent claim. 

St. Peters Agency

 After the 1851 treaties of Traverse des Sioux and Mendota, the St. Peters Agency was replaced by the Upper (Yellow Medicine) and Lower (Redwood) Sioux Agencies located on the newly established Dakota reservation. By 1853 most of the Dakota who lived near the St. Peters Agency moved to the reservation, and the agency was closed.
—Incorrect – There were 2 Dakota reservations.

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