Review – MHS DW Website (7 of 7)

Minnesota Historical Society (MHS)
U.S./Dakota War of 1862 Website
7 – Today
Reviewed on February 1, 2014 

Items of Interest 

General Comments

  • Unbalanced – The title of Part 7 of 7 should be changed from “Today” to “Dakota Today.” There is so very little said about white descendants that almost every statement is unbalanced in favor of the Dakota descendants. Rather than keep repeating this comment, only the most unbalanced statements are indicated.

Most Objectionable Statements 

Video – “150 Years Later” 

We have to take care of our own hearts. We have to not carry that heaviness. Because if we do, we won’t heal.
—Incorrect – Not all Dakota people are healing today.

We could never call home, home.
—What does this mean?

Education, language revitalization, activism and collaboration of Dakota People from around the nation and in Canada help to tell the true story of Minnesota’s past and the resilience of its first people.
—Incorrect – Throughout this website, many statements selected by MHS from the longer interviews are not correct.
—Incorrect – Prove that the Dakota were Minnesota’s first people.

When they were on the gallows, they told the people don’t cry for us, what we did, we did for you. That is why we are here today 150 years later.
—Incorrect – The majority of the Dakota men did not go to war. Many were threatened with death if they didn’t fight against the whites.
—Incorrect – Killing more than 650 white civilians and soldiers resulted in more harm than good to the Dakota people.
—Incorrect – Many Dakota and white descendants are not here today because the hostile Dakota did what they did.

…Pike Island – the origin of the Dakota people, that’s where we came from – the center of the universe.
—Incorrect – That this was the center of the universe is a relatively recent interpretation of what Gideon Pond wrote in 1851. See Pond, “Gatherings from the Traditional History of the Mdewakantonwan Dakotas”, Dakota Tawaxitku Kin, September 1851. “…the mouth of the Minnesota river (Watpa Minisota) lies immediately over the centre of the earth and under the centre of the heavens.” Pond did not say this was a place of creation.
—Incorrect – That this is the place of Dakota origin is a relatively recent belief. In the same article, Pond wrote, “The Mdewakantonwan tradition…asserts that they sprang into existence about the lakes at the head of Rum river.” This is the Mille lacs Lake area. Dakota have believed for more than 150 years this to be their place of origin.

Together, people work on creating education opportunities, historical awareness and healing for all who call Minnesota home.
—Incorrect – Not everyone is healing. 


 Efforts to commemorate the past and honor the present while creating change and awareness for the future are priorities for the Dakota. Settler descendants are also active in initiatives that promote truth-telling and inclusivity in remembering Minnesota history. Many organizations seek to educate Native and non-Native peoples in acts of reconciliation and commemoration.
—What does this mean – “Settler descendants are also active in initiatives that promote truth-telling…”? Haven’t we been telling the truth before?
—Unbalanced and Incorrect – The World English Dictionary defines inclusivity as “the fact or policy of not excluding members or participants on the grounds of gender, race, class…” This website does not promote inclusivity.
—Incorrect – What does reconciliation mean? We cannot have reconciliation until there is conciliation. We cannot have conciliation until all of these incorrect statements are corrected.

[Map] – “Dakota Communities Today”
—Incorrect – The Pipestone Dakota Community is not shown. 


 There is today a broad range of cross-cultural initiatives to teach the painful history of the U.S.-Dakota War, as well as Minnesota and national history. These efforts focus on life today, the survival and resilience of the Dakota people, and collaborative work for education and awareness.
—Unbalanced – What about the German, French, Swedish, Norwegian, British, Irish and other ethnic group initiatives?

Commemorative ceremonies and marches
—Incorrect – This site has been disabled.

De-colonization efforts and activism
—What does this mean?

Action and awareness around museum collections items
—Unbalanced – There are many photos here of Indian artifacts. Where are the settler artifacts?
—Incorrect – How can this be called an initiative when no Dakota artifacts were put on display in the MHS 2012 U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 exhibit?

MHS initiatives
—Incorrect – Many of these initiatives are outdated.

[Photo of banner at Coldwater Spring, 2008] – “Reclaiming Dakota Sacred Land”
—What does this mean? No interpretation about this banner is provided. 

Memory and Commemoration

 —Incorrect – Based on its content, the title of this screen should be “Dakota Memory and Commemoration”. 

Historic Marker Project

 Three historical markers with outdated language were replaced and ready for viewing in 2012.
—These signs have been reviewed previously on this blog. See “Review – MHS three new 2012 signs”.

The content of the new signs was reviewed by an MHS historical marker committee, as well as by Dakota consultants and the MHS Indian Advisory Committee.
—Unbalanced – Why doesn’t MHS have Settler consultants and a Settler Advisory Committee?
—Incorrect – There are many errors on these signs and in the corresponding website information. MHS needs a better review process. 

Experiencing 1862

 [Photo] – The white buffalo monument commemorating the 1862 hangings in Mankato, MN.
—What does this mean? – No interpretation about this monument is provided.

In 2012, students in the St. Paul American Indian Education program had an opportunity to take take a field trip to sites relevant to the events of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. 
—Incorrect – “take take” 

Changing Memorials

 Minnesota is evolving in its commemoration of the U.S.-Dakota War. As you look through these monuments and souvenirs held in the Minnesota Historical Society’s collections, think about the messages they send… 
—Incorrect – Pressing X on the photos does not work. 

Survival and Resilience 

—Incorrect – The title of this screen should be “Dakota Survival and Resilience.” 

As the commemoration calls attention to important events in U.S. history, many people in Minnesota and globally desire to learn more about the formation and original inhabitants of the United States.
 —Unbalanced – What about the history of the other ethnic groups?

Some people refer to what occurred in both Minnesota and the nation as the genocide of America’s indigenous people. It is a painful subject for many.
—Incorrect – Because “some people” call it genocide, does not mean it was genocide.
—Unbalanced – If the U.S. committed genocide against the Dakota people, hostile Dakota also committed genocide against the white settlers.

Some of the statistics related to American Indian peoples are bleak: one of the highest proportional poverty rates in the nation, low access to health care and adequate education, language loss, and high rates of illness and suicide.
—Incorrect – Not all Dakota people fall into this group. This is a complicated subject. Why is this happening and what are Indian communities doing about this?
—Unbalanced – Now discuss similar problems in other ethnic groups. 

As Minnesota’s demographic landscape continues to change, so must our willingness to listen to others’ histories with open hearts and minds.
—Unbalanced – For this to happen, MHS must tell everybody’s history and everybody must be willing to listen to everybody else’s history. 

The American Indian Movement 

—No comment.


 —Incorrect – Based on its content, this should be titled “Dakota Contributions”.

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