Reporting Susie Jones
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It was 150 years ago when about 1,700 Dakota women, children and elders were forced to march 150 miles to an internment camp at Fort Snelling State Park.
Today, a group of several dozen, completed a six-day walk, retracing the steps of their ancestors.
Gwen Westerman is Dakota, and said the remembrance walk is a chance to reflect on a horrific part of Minnesota’s history that is rarely taught.
“A lot of people are unaware of the total history of 1862. We are here to remember the women and children who were so deeply affected,” Westerman said.
Westerman said the Dakota women and children had not participated in the fighting, and surrendered at the end of the war.
From Nov. 7 to the 13, they walked through Southern Minnesota, on their way to the prison camp near Fort Snelling.
Along the way, Westerman said they were assaulted by angry townspeople and soldiers.
The camp was crowded, and the winter brutal.
“People didn’t have access to the medicines and food and water that they needed. Some accounts say there was crying from morning to night because of the number of deaths during the day,” she said.
Today, a crowd of supporters, watched as the walkers gathered in a circle, with drums playing in the background.
The elders read the names of the descendents of those who died in the camps.