479: Little War on the Prairie

479: Little War on the Prairie

Nov 23, 2012
Growing up in Mankato, Minnesota, John Biewen says, nobody ever talked about the most important historical event ever to happen there: in 1862, it was the site of the largest mass execution in U.S. history. Thirty-eight Dakota Indians were hanged after a war with white settlers. John went back to Minnesota to figure out what really happened 150 years ago, and why Minnesotans didn’t talk about it much after.
  • John continues the story of the Dakota War of 1862, and how it resulted in the expulsion of the Dakota people from the state of Minnesota. Then John goes back to his hometown to see how this history is being taught today. He speaks with historian Mary Wingerd, author of North Country: The Making of Minnesota, about why so many people — including both of them — grew up in Minnesota and heard so little about the war. And he witnesses Dakota people, on the 150th anniversary of the war, crossing the state line and returning to Minnesota. (26 minutes)

    John Biewen is director of the audio program at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.History

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The original state seal of Minnesota, with the Indian riding off into the sunset.

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