The 1856 Gideon Pond House, Bloomington, MN. Home base for the Pond Dakota Heritage Society.
A few of you have asked how to connect with other people interested in the shared history of Dakota and non-Native people in Minnesota. The simplest way is to look for a local historical group in your area. If you live within driving distance of Minneapolis-St. Paul, you are welcome to come check out the Pond Dakota Heritage Society. I am on the board, which makes me biased :). But I think our public history programs are a great way to meet others who share similar interests.
While our mission statement encompasses the full sweep of Dakota history in Minnesota, this summer our programming focuses on the U.S. Dakota War of 1862. Here’s just a sampling. If you’d like to be on our email list to receive our full program schedule (including naturalist programs, 19th century living history, and Dakota language revitalization), leave me a comment and we’ll add you to the list!
History in the Making: Minnesota Tragedy The U.S. Dakota War of 1862 This Sunday June 10 at 2:00 PM at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. You are welcome to join members of the Pond Dakota Heritage Society for a behind the scenes preview of the new 1862 exhibit being installed at the Minnesota History Center. Exhibit developer Kate Roberts will talk about the process of taking the exhibit from concept to reality in the gallery where the most recent exhibit revisions are mocked-up for viewing and comments.
The exhibit opens to the public June 30. Due to the subject matter (war) and the reading level, I’d recommend this for sixth graders on up. It is an accessible introduction to the war for those with no prior exposure, but contains enough new material to engage those familiar with the story. Plan to spend a couple of hours or to come back more than once to absorb the story. For exhibit hours see the MHS website.
Book Release Celebration The board of the Pond Dakota Heritage Society invites you to a party for the release of A Thrilling Narrative, which won the Society its first Legacy Grant, Sunday June 24, 2012 at 2:00 PM at the Gideon Pond House in Bloomington. Guests of honor will be: Alan R. Woolworth, one of the living legends of Minnesota history, a friend and mentor to whom we dedicated the project; Glenn Wasicuna, one of a handful of living first-language speakers of Dakota, who translated John B. Renville’s 19th century Dakota letters for the book; Gwen Westerman, who lent her sense of the poetry and power of the Dakota language to the English translations and wrote the Foreword; and my friend and co-editor Zabelle Stodola. We’ll share about how a German-Irish Minnesota historian, an English professor of literature from Arkansas, a native speaker of Dakota from Sioux Valley, Manitoba, and a Dakota poet/artist/professor of humanities came to collaborate on A Thrilling Narrative. We’ll also share food, visit, and sign books.
The Dakota Prisoner of War Letters Sunday July 15, 2:00 PM Oak Grove Presbyterian Church, Bloomington. In the wake of the Dakota War of 1862, Dakota men imprisoned at Davenport, Iowa wrote letters to relatives in their own language. The letters that survived have remained inscrutable, locked in mid-19th century Dakota manuscripts. 150 years later, the prisoner’s voices and stories are being recovered in a book of translations made by two of their descendants, Dr. Clifford Canku and Rev. Michael Simon. We are honored to host Dr. John Peacock, who wrote the Introduction for the book (Minnesota Historical Society Press, November 2012) and who will be discussing the letters, their writers, their context, and the translation process. Dr. Peacock is Professor of Native American Studies at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, and is an enrolled member of the Spirit Lake Dakota Nation. Sponsored by: The Pond Dakota Heritage Society; Oak Grove Presbyterian Church; the Plymouth American Indian Initiative; the Bloomington Historical Society, and the Traverse des Sioux Library System.
“Our Children Are Dying With Hunger”: Malnutrition, Morbidity and Mortality on the Sioux Reservation in 1862 Thursday July 26 At 7:00PM at Turner Hall in New Ulm, MN. For decades, historians have struggled to reconcile Little Crow’s claim of starvation on the eve of the U.S. Dakota War of 1862 with the documented availability of food on the Sioux Reservation. Independent historian Carrie Reber Zeman argues that staple foods ripening in agency fields and available from Federal warehouses and traders’ stores are historical red herrings. Primary sources suggest that Dakota children were dying of debility and disease due to the invisible menace of chronic malnutrition, compounding the food crises among Dakota traditionalists the summer of 1862.
History in the Making: What Makes a Good Story? Writing Narrative History Sunday August 12, 2:00 PM at the Gideon Pond House in Bloomington. Many people have an idea for a book they’d like to write, but don’t know where to start. Scott W. Berg, author of the forthcoming historical narrative 38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow, and the Beginning of the Frontier’s End (Pantheon, December 2012) and a member of the creative nonfiction faculty at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, talks about the art and craft of moving from idea to book. When do you know that you’ve done enough research to start writing? What is the role of style, plot, setting, and character development in a work of narrative nonfiction? This is the second event in the Pond Dakota Heritage Society’s “History in the Making” series, featuring a diverse set of practitioners of history taking us behind the scenes of their work.
The Dakota War Trials of 1862-63: Kangaroo Court or Merited Justice? Sunday August 26 2:00 PM at the Gideon Pond House in Bloomington. In the aftermath of 1862 Dakota War, more Dakota men were convicted and sentenced to death by a military court in Minnesota than in any other group of trials conducted in American history. Walt Bachman, a Minnesota trial lawyer for 22 years who worked on more than 100 Hennepin County homicide cases, will discuss the prosecutions of almost 400 Dakota men in terms non-lawyers can understand. In some respects, Bachman concludes, the trials were even worse than is commonly understood. But in other ways, he believes, key trials were more fair and just than is usually acknowledged. Come and judge for yourself. Walt Bachman is the author of Northern Slave, Black Dakota: The Life and Times of Joseph Godfrey, PDHS’s second Legacy Grant winning-project, forthcoming from Pond Dakota Press in 2013.