Review – MHS FS at Bdote Book

Fort Snelling at Bdote: A Brief History
By Peter DeCarlo
St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society, 2016
Reviewed on February 19, 2017

Items of Interest

The title implies this book is about historic Fort Snelling. But, much of it is about Dakota Indian history not related to historic Fort Snelling.

Written by a Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) employee and published by MHS, this book leaves no doubt of MHS’s policy on historic Dakota/White relations.

I am reviewing only that portion of this book related to the Dakota Indians.

General Comments

  • Save your money.
  • How do I use this book? It has no footnotes, no Table of Contents and no Index. Without footnotes, the text lacks credibility. It is a storybook. The knowledgeable reader will be insulted. The unknowledgeable reader will be misled.
  • As I read this book, these words came to mind: wrong, biased, disrespectful (to the Whites), exaggeration, allegation, generalization, incomplete, wordsmithing, revisionist history and agenda-driven.
  • Incorrect – The author states that ancestors of the Dakota Indians were the first residents of the state of Minnesota. This cannot be proven.
  • If Mdote (Bdote) was sacred to the Dakota, they would not have sold this land in 1805, they would not have confirmed the sale in 1820, they would not have granted Pike Island to Pelagie Faribault in 1820 and they would not have permitted the US to start building Fort Snelling in 1820.
  • Unbalanced – It is stated that the Fort Snelling Dakota internment camp was a concentration camp, but it is not stated that the camps where hostile Dakota held white and mixed-blood civilians were concentration camps.
  • Unbalanced – It is stated that the US committed genocide against the Dakota Indians, but it is not stated that hostile Dakota committed genocide against whites and mixed-bloods.
  • While this book is about Fort Snelling and the Dakota Indians, I never saw the Dakota name for Fort Snelling.

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Review – MHS Northern Lights Book – Rev. 2nd Ed.

Northern Lights: The Stories of Minnesota’s Past
Revised Second Edition
By Dave Kenney
St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2013.
Reviewed on June 1, 2014
Updated on March 17, 2016

 Items of Interest

Northern Lights is a Minnesota History textbook for 5th grade students in Minnesota schools. It is marketed by the Minnesota Historical Society. This is a review of the Revised Second Edition. Refer to the review of the Second Edition elsewhere on this blog. Only Chapters 3, 5, 6, 7, and 9 are reviewed. The comments below should not be viewed as representative of this book as a whole. The other chapters stand or fall on their own merit.

 General Comments

  • On page 8, there is a paragraph titled “Interpretation: “Telling a Story Based on Evidence.” It states that historians “try to explain what the primary sources say about the past.” On page 118, there is another paragraph that discusses the use of primary sources. I found many opinions that either are not correct or cannot be proven. Perhaps there should be more historians instead of politicians writing history books?
  • Incorrect – Use of the word “Dakota” is confusing. It is used as a dialect, as a band and as a nation. There are many generalities that do not apply to all “Dakota.” Who, where and when need to be defined.
  • Unbalanced – There needs to be a discussion on how the Dakota obtained land from other Indian nations. They killed members of other nations and took their land. Compare this to how the US obtained land.

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Review – MHS Northern Lights Book – 2nd Edition

Northern Lights:The Stories of Minnesota’s Past.
Second Edition
By Dave Kenney
St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2003.
Reviewed on January 6, 2012

 Items of Interest

 This is a Minnesota History textbook designed to be used in 5th grade classes in Minnesota schools. It is marketed by the Minnesota Historical Society.

 General Comments

  •  The Dakota are defined to be the seven council fires: Mdewakanton, Wahpeton, Wahpekute, Sisseton, Yanktonai, Yankton, and Teton.
  • Incorrect – There are many generalities that do not apply to all “Dakota.”
  • Who, where and when is often not defined.
  • This textbook contains a mixture of fictional stories, Dakota legends and facts. Can the 5th grade student distinguish what is fact and what is fiction?
  • Disrespectful – This book implies at least 3 times that the fur traders were dishonest.  Name the dishonest fur traders and show the proof.
  • Unbalanced – Much more information is given about Dakota culture than is given about other ethnic groups.
  • The intensive warfare between the Ojibwe and Dakota is down-played.
  • Unbalanced – The role of the Indians who opposed the 1862 war is ignored.
  • Unbalanced – The Dakota War aftermath discusses the Dakota but not the whites.

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