Review – Milford Reservation Line Sign

Brown County Historical Society
Location: North side of Brown CR 29 just west of Milford Monument
Updated on June 10, 2014

 Items of Interest

Based on new research, the previous review of this sign has been deleted and this sign is being revisited.

This sign was written and erected by the Brown County Historical Society and funded by private individuals.

Most Objectionable Statements

In 1850 the Minnesota Territory had a white population of about 6000. In 1857, a year before Minnesota became a state, the population was 150,000.

  • Incorrect – The population was not exactly 150,000. A US census was taken in 1857, and the actual population is available.

One of the reasons for this enormous growth was the opening of the “Suland,” land belonging to the Dakota Indians. In two treaties, one at Traverse des Sioux (St. Peter) and the other at Mendota, the United States bought the Dakota land for three million dollars, about 10 cents an acre.

  • Disrespectful – “Su” is a shortened form of the word Sioux, which many Dakota people find offensive.
  • Incorrect – In 1851, Traverse des Sioux was a separate town north of the future site of St. Peter which was founded in 1853.
  • Where was Mendota?
  • Incorrect – The total paid was $3,075,000. The Brown County Historical Society 3rd floor exhibit states $3,750,000. Which is correct?
  • Incorrect – Here it states 10 cents an acre. In the BCHS 3rd floor exhibit, it states 12 cents per acre. Which is correct? This land was never surveyed. We do not know how many acres were included. It is not possible to state the actual amount paid per acre.
  • Incorrect – The “Dakota” did not own this land. The Mdewakanton, Wahpekute, Sisseton and Wahpeton Bands of the Dakota Nation sold their “occupation rights” to the US. These bands could not sell this land to anyone except the US.

The United States Government allowed the Dakota to keep a strip of land, ten miles on each side of the Minnesota River.

  • Incorrect – The Dakota were permitted to stay on this land. They did not own it.
  • Incorrect – At 20 miles wide and a combined 139 miles long, this was hardly a “strip of land.”
  • Incorrect – Combined, these reservations were 139 miles long. Why is the length of these reservations omitted?

The eastern boundary of this reservation was a north-south line from the Little Cottonwood River north and crossing the Minnesota River at the mouth of Little Rock Creek.

  • Incorrect – There were 2 reservations.
  • Incorrect – The eastern boundary of the lower reservation was defined by the 1851 Treaty at Mendota: “…bounded…on the east by the Little Rock River and a line running due south from its mouth to the Waraju [Big Cottonwood River]…”

The Dakota people moved into their reservation in 1853, but in 1858 the part of the reservation north of the Minnesota River was sold.

  • Incorrect – Many Dakota were already on the Upper Reservation and did not have to move. Not all of the Dakota People moved onto the reservations.
  • Incorrect – They moved “onto” not “into” their reservations.
  • Incorrect – In the 1858 Treaties, the Mdewakanton, Wahpekute, Sisseton and Wahpeton Bands of the Dakota Nation were paid a second time for the north half of their reservations.

In 1858 surveyors marked out the boundaries of the reservation. When the surveyors drew the north-south boundary, the mouth of the Rock Creek was about 700 yards east of where it is today. This marker is on the 1858 north-south reservation line.

  • Absolute Incorrect – There was no survey in 1858.
  • Incorrect – This eastern boundary of the lower reservation was not surveyed until 1859. The survey was not approved until 1860.
  • Incorrect – It was called the Little Rock River. Rock Creek was the name of the creek near Fort Ridgely.
  • Incorrect – The flow of the Little Rock River was incorrectly surveyed. It is not certain when this was surveyed. The survey showed that the Little Rock River flowed uphill more than 100 feet on its course to the Minnesota River. Water does not flow uphill. Because of this incorrect survey, it is not certain where the mouth of the Little Rock River was in the 1859 survey.
  • Incorrect – Because we do not know for sure where the mouth of the Little Rock River was in 1859, we cannot say that it has shifted.

Map inset:

Rock Creek mouth today

  • Incorrect – This should be Little Rock River or as it is called today, “Little Rock Creek.”

Rock Creek mouth 1858

  • Incorrect – It was called the Little Rock River in 1858.

Dakota Reservation

  •  Incorrect – This should be Lower Dakota Reservation.

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