The Dakota were a part of this land for centuries. We now call it Minnesota. The Ojibwe, moving ever westward for generations, arrived in the northern forests of this land by the late 1600s. Europeans began arriving in large numbers with different economic, social and religious ways leading to an epic clash just 150 years ago. November’s Native American History Month coinciding with the sesquicentennial gives reason to learn more about the event and the people involved.

(credit: Minnesota Historical Society)

“U.S.-Dakota War of 1862” Exhibit
Minnesota History Center
345 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102
(651) 259-3000

A six-week war spreading across southern Minnesota leaves hundreds dead. Thirty-eight Dakota were hanged in Mankato on Dec. 26, 1862, and their people were exiled from their land. This was the largest mass execution in U.S. history at the time. The Minnesota History Center’s presentation is the product of a long-term “truth recovery” project uncovering original documents, letters, diaries, artifacts and other historical sources. This involved meetings with descendants of the settlers now living throughout the Minnesota River Valley and locating Dakota descendents from throughout Minnesota, the Upper Midwest and Canada. Viewers are encouraged to come to their own conclusions, to discuss what they are seeing and learning and to leave comments. This exhibit will be showing now through June 30, 2013.

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Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway Mobile Tour
(888) 601-3010

While just sitting at home, one can download the travel guide and call the number above to follow the epic battle across southern Minnesota from Traverse des Sioux, New Ulm, Lower Sioux Agency, Birch Coulee Battlefield and Upper Sioux Agency Camp Release. The more adventurous can follow the signage along the Scenic Byway and punch in the number on the sign at each historical landmark.

Minnesota State Fair

(credit: CBS)

Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post
43411 Oodena Dr.
Onamia, MN 56359
(320) 532-3632

One can learn more about the journey of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe to their current settlement, sovereignty issues and treaties negotiated and broken. The museum features exhibits, video and computer interactive displays, listening stations and objects. The Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post hosts demonstrations for traditional cooking, birch-bark basketry and beadwork. Several November weekend events are listed on its website.

Birchbark Books
2115 W. 21st St.
Minneapolis, MN 55405
(612) 374-4023

A birch bark canoe hangs from the rafters inside a bookstore nestled in the quiet Kenwood neighborhood of Minneapolis. Prolific writer and bookstore owner Louise Erdrich, a member of Turtle Mountain Chippewa, has created an island chock full of Native literature, culture and artifacts. Susan White, store manager, calls it “the largest, most complete selection of traditional and authentic American Indian books.” In fact, the online shop lists only a tenth of the selections available in the store. Birchbark Books also features quillwork, traditional basketry, silverwork, unusual dream catchers and paintings.

(credit: Coco Mault)

“Ded Uŋk’uŋpi—We Are Here” Exhibit
James J. Hill House Gallery
240 Summit Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55102
(651) 297-2555

Dates: Oct. 13, 2012 through Jan. 13, 2012

Gwen Westerman Wasicuna, Dakota artist and scholar, calls it “a stunning mix of humor and anger, hope and despair.” This exhibit is a powerful display of 20 “American Indian artists reflecting on the 150th anniversary of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.” Collaboration between All My Relations Arts and the Minnesota Historical Society made this exhibit possible. Featured Artists include Joe Allen, Angela Babby, Karen Beaver, Todd Bordeaux, Julie Buffalohead, Avis Charley, Gordon Coons, Jim Denomie, Michael Elizondo Jr., Evans Flammond, Charles Her Many Horses, Dakota Hoska, Henry Payer, Charles Rencountre, James Star Comes Out, Maggie Thompson, Jodi Webster, Gwen Westerman, Dwayne Wilcox and Bobby Wilson.

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Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from the University of Minnesota where he studied Political Science, Business and Industrial Relations. A writer for, he also consults with a variety of organizations and individuals helping them develop and grow. His work can be found at