Delving Deeper into the 1860’s: A story about the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862

Kim Watkins, News Editor

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With celebrations and dedications being made throughout November for Native American History month, Southwest Minnesota State University is hosting several events in commemoration of indigenous history.
Such events include the Social Science Museum exhibit, Commemorating Controversy: The Dakota-U.S. War of 1862 and a speaker, Janet Timmerman, who shared a story about the LaFramboise family during this war.
The exhibit was produced by students at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn. and shows the history of the war that occurred in 1862. Though the exhibit doesn’t speak for everyone, the history shown in the exhibit is quite extensive.
The panels included in the exhibit feature are titled Terms and Chronology, The Dakota Way of Being, From Kinship to Capitalism, Broken Promises, Cultural Confrontation, Neglected Payments, The Dakota Declare War, Press and Panic on Frontier, A Bitter End, Exile of the Dakota People and Commemorating the Dakota-U.S. War.
The panel exhibit will be available to see through Nov. 29. The Museum hours are from 9 a.m.-noon Mondays-Fridays.
To open up the exhibit, Timmerman presented her new journal, “Red Earth, White Road: Experiences of the LaFramboise Family,” a story about a Euro-Dakota family during the 1862 war.
Both Kevin Riemenschneider and Steven McGeary, presidents of the History and Oyate clubs, respectively, gave welcomes and thanks to kick off the event. Anthony Amato, SMSU social science professor, gave a brief overview of the presentation and welcomed Timmerman to the podium.
“I’ve always been uncomfortable with conflict…this topic was very interesting. It’s a new take on old stories and it’s a developing story over 200 years…it speaks volumes about how tragic it was,” Timmerman, SMSU alumna and program coordinator of the History Center of Olmsted County and adjunct faculty at Rochester Community and Technical College, said.
Claiming that she was still just a freshman student with this history, Timmerman was still able to delve into this complex topic and delivered a powerful message about what this family faced during the 1862 war.
Her slideshow included photos and gave more knowledge to the audience. “Metis” was a word used for mixed-bloods (such as French-Ojibwe, in this instance). Joseph LaFramboise, Sr. had six Metis children in all. Photos of these children included Joseph, Jr. (born in 1828), Alexis George (1840) and Julia Anne (1842) from his first two marriages. The last three were from his marriage with Jane Dickson – William Robert (1847), Justine (1849) and Eliza Jane (1855).
Timmerman shared a map that showed the locations of the LaFramboise family during the conflict. She also shared the history of the violence that occurred at the Lower Sioux Agency and the Lac qui Parle Mission and the battle that was fought at Birch Coulee and Wood Lake.
“It was dangerous to be in this area, even as a part Dakota…there was a long silence, which says a lot,” Timmerman said.
Emily Schoephoerster ended the presentation with thanks for the audience and Timmerman.
The struggles that occurred during the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 affected many different people. This conflict led to the upheaval of families, violence and ultimately, to one of the largest mass executions in U.S. history (38 Sioux men were hanged 150 years ago in Mankato, Minn.).
This conflict is just one of many that shows the heartache of many indigenous and Metis peoples throughout U.S. history.
“Everyone has a right to be proud of their heritage,” Timmerman said.
These events are sponsored by Southwest Minnesota Regional Research Center, the SMSU Social Science Museum and Department, the SMSU Oyate and History Clubs and the Society for the Study of Local and Regional History.
The exhibit was funded by Gustavus Adolphus College, Nicollet County Historical Society, Minnesota Humanities Center, the Minnesota Historical Society and the people of Minn. through a grant from the Minn. Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.