Land of 10,000 books Weblog

September 6, 2012

Minnesota Is a Dakota Place

Filed under: Authors, History, Native American — Alison Aten @ 10:44 am

Mni Sota Makoce“Minnesota is a Dakota place. The Dakota people named it and left their marks in the landscape and in its history. Yet the relationship of the Dakota people to their traditional lands in Minnesota is little understood by Minnesotans today. Many history books describe the Dakota as a fierce, warlike people who lived in Minnesota prior to the arrival of whites, then disappeared. Others tell the story of the 1862 Dakota–U.S. War as though those events were the only ones of significance in Dakota history.

“Among the Dakota people, the importance of this place to their history and identity is well known. It is part of the oral tradition and knowledge of the people. In the written record of European encounters with Dakota people that go back three hundred years, explorers and missionaries described the Dakota, this region, and places in it, though perhaps sometimes in incomplete and garbled form. Even from these sources, the enduring eloquence of Dakota people about their connection to the land can be heard.”

These words from Gwen Westerman and Bruce White open their new book, Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota.

Much of the focus on the Dakota people in Minnesota rests on the tragic events of the 1862 U.S.–Dakota War and the resulting exile that sent the majority of the Dakota to prisons and reservations beyond the state’s boundaries. But the true depth of the devastation of removal cannot be understood without a closer examination of the history of the Dakota people and their deep cultural connection to the land that is Minnesota. Drawing on oral history interviews, archival work, and painstaking comparisons of Dakota, French, and English sources, Mni Sota Makoce tells the detailed history of the Dakota people in their traditional homelands for eons prior to exile and continuing to this day.

To learn more about Dakota history and culture, please join us at the launch event for the book next Thursday, September 13, at 7 p.m., hosted by Birchbark Books at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Minneapolis.

For more information about the book and author events, please click on the title, above.

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