Review – DNR JRB House Sign

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
The Joseph R. Brown House Sign
Located at Joseph R. Brown Wayside Park, Renville County

 Items of Interest


 General Comments

  • Disrespectful – Joseph R. Brown’s many accomplishments could be discussed, but DNR prefers to cast doubts on his relationship with the Dakota Indians. 

Most Objectionable Statements

This was the first house built of quarried granite in the Minnesota River valley during the 1860s. Most structures then were cabins or small wooden frame houses. Brick and stone structures had been built at the Lower Agency and Fort Ridgely but none could compare to the Brown House.
—What does this mean? Does this mean the entire Minnesota River Valley? If it does, I doubt that this is a correct statement.

Susan Frenier Brown

Susan’s Dakota name was hin-ya-zi-ce-du-ta-win or Soft Scarlet Down.
—Is this correct? Were Susan’s descendants consulted as to the proper spelling of her Dakota name?

Susan and her children were taken captive on August 20, 1862, and held in Little Crow’s encampment, eventually being released at Camp Release six weeks later.
—Incorrect – They were held in Little Crow’s camp until her stepfather Akipa and Gabriel Renville came and took them to the Friendly Camp.

Susan died December 23, 1904, and is buried at the Sisseton Agency, South Dakota.
—Incorrect – She is buried at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on the Lake Traverse Reservation.

On August 18, 1862 several of Joseph and Susan Brown’s children were warned of trouble as they passed by the nearby Indian village of Little Dog.
—Incorrect – 2 of their children were warned by Little Dog.

Dakota Friend or Foe?
—Disrespectful – Why does DNR suggest Joseph R. Brown was a foe of the Dakota Indians? Sources say that he was one of the best Indian agents and that there would have been no Dakota War had he remained in office.

The Dakota language skills he learned as a young man were used when he served as an interpreter for the writing of the 1851 treaty of Traverse des Sioux.
—Incorrect – He served as an interpreter at the signing of the treaty.

This treaty [1858] sold almost half of the Dakota’s remaining reservation to the United States government in exchange for additional annual cash payments, food, and cultural assimilation programs.
—Incorrect – There were 2 treaties in 1858.
—Incorrect – There were 2 reservations in 1858.
—Incorrect – The Dakota did not sell land in 1858. They did not own their reservations in 1858. They were asked to vacate the parts of their reservations on the north side of the Minnesota River. However, they were paid a 2nd time for the land they vacated.
—Incorrect – Their annual cash payments and food did not increase as a result of the 1858 Treaties.
—They were also given ownership of their remaining reservations on the south side of the Minnesota River.

Brown also was the author of the “Traders’ Paper,” a document attached to the Treaty of 1858, where claims made against the Dakota by licensed traders would be paid from the treaty annuity funds before the Dakota would receive any treaty annuity payments.
—Incorrect – I cannot find that Brown was the author. If he was the author, certainly others would have been involved.
—Incorrect – There were 2 treaties in 1858.
—Incorrect – The Traders’ Paper was used in the Treaties of 1851 not 1858.

This document was a great source of friction between the Dakota and the United States government.
—More needs to be said about what and who else caused the friction.

During his time in Minnesota the ambitious Brown was a fur trader, lumberman, journalist, and the founder of two Minnesota towns, Henderson and Dakota (Stillwater).
—Incorrect – He founded Dakota. Dakota was later annexed to Stillwater.
—Incorrect – He also founded Brown’s Valley.

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