How the Dakota Have Shaped the State

The Land, Water, and Language of Minnesota’s First People

Expert Essay: Teresa Peterson (Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota) and Walter LaBatte Jr. (also Sisseton-Wahpeton) examine the experiences of Dakota people in Mni Sota Makoce, their spiritual homeland.

The Mississippi River Reservoir Dam System

The Headwaters Dams were built between 1881 and 1912 in the Mississippi headwaters. The dams served to regulate river flow and assist navigation until 1938, when they were relegated to a flood control role.

The Sybil Carter Indian Lace Association

When Sybil Carter started her first lace-making classes at the White Earth Reservation, she set the stage for a major economic enterprise. In 1904, friends of Carter organized the Sybil Carter Indian Lace Association to help ship and market lace made by women on reservations to East Coast consumers. The association provided a good source of income to American Indian women. However, the association also held negative views of American Indian women and excluded them from leadership roles.

Treaty of La Pointe, 1854

The second Treaty of La Pointe (1854) ceded most Ojibwe land on the northern and western shores of Lake Superior to the U.S. government. It also established the Grand Portage and Fond du Lac reservations. In exchange, the Ojibwe received annual payments and a guarantee that they could continue to hunt and fish throughout this territory.

Treaty of Mendota

The Treaty of Mendota was signed between the Mdewakanton and Wahpekute bands of the Dakota and the United States Government in 1851. By signing this treaty and the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux the same year, the Dakota transferred ownership of their lands to the United States. The Treaties of 1851 opened millions of acres to white settlement. For the Dakota, the treaties represented a step towards the loss of their homeland, and the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.

Treaty of Traverse des Sioux

The Treaty of Traverse des Sioux of 1851 is an agreement between the Sisseton and Wahpeton bands of Dakota and the U.S. government. It transferred ownership of much of southern and western Minnesota from the Dakota to the United States. The treaty is significant in Minnesota's history because, along with similar treaties signed that same year, it opened twenty-four million acres of land to immigration. For the Dakota, these treaties marked another step in the process that saw them increasingly marginalized in and dismissed from land that was their home.

Wacouta I (Shooter), (c. 1800–1858)

In spring 1829, Wacouta (Shooter) faced two challenges upon becoming leader of the Red Wing band of Mdewakanton Dakota. He needed to fend off challenges from rivals within his village and also find success in dealings with United States government officials.

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