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Inyan Ceyaka Otunwe

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Color image of a Dakota summer lodge, ca. 1846–1848. Watercolor painting by Seth Eastman.

Dakota summer lodge, ca. 1846–1848. Watercolor painting by Seth Eastman.

Inyan Ceyaka Otunwe (“Village at the Barrier of Stone”), also called Little Rapids or simply Inyan Ceyaka, was a summer planting village of the Wahpeton Dakota. Located near present-day Jordan on the Minnesota River, the village was occupied by the Wahpeton during the early 1800s, and likely before. Burial mounds indicate that Paleo-Americans—possible ancestors of the Dakota—lived at the site as early as 100 CE.

During the fur-trade era (roughly 1750–1840), the size and location of Dakota encampments like the one at Inyan Ceyaka varied according to a yearly cycle. In fall, large groups dispersed to harvest maple sugar and hunt deer. In winter, smaller family groups established camps in wooded areas. Men hunted and trapped fur-bearing animals, while women retrieved food stores they had cached during the summer.

As a summer planting village, Inyan Ceyaka was occupied from late spring until early fall. It may also have been occupied in winter. The population of the village fluctuated, but Euro-American observers estimated that over three hundred Wahpeton lived there.

Women planted, tended, and harvested corn at Inyan Ceyaka. Women and children gathered berries and roots. Men contributed to the food supply by hunting and fishing. Villagers also constructed bark containers, placed them underground, and used them to store excess corn.

Wahpeton women built and maintained the structures of the village. Since the Dakota built their largest wooden lodges at summer planting villages, it is likely that such lodges existed at Inyan Ceyaka. Designed for summer living, they provided shade and were well ventilated. Forty meters from the lodge area was a community dump where the villagers discarded plant and animal remains, ash, and other trash.

Documentary and archaeological research suggests that the village included a dance area—a smooth, dry semi-circle surrounded by a low earthen embankment. The Wahpeton would have kept the interior of the circle clear for dancers to perform while spectators stood outside the embankment. Mazamani (Walking Iron), a spokesman of the Wahpeton in the early nineteenth century, was a well-known leader of the Medicine Lodge. His leadership of the lodge, coupled with archaeological evidence, suggests that medicine dances were held at Inyan Ceyaka during the summer.

The first known person of European decent to visit Inyan Ceyaka was Jean Baptiste Faribault, though he may have been preceded by trader Archibald John Campbell. Faribault worked for the Northwest Fur Company and began trading at the village in 1802. He married a mixed-race Dakota woman and acted as a cultural middleman. Some historians believe he spent several summers at Inyan Ceyaka.

From Faribault’s arrival until 1851, the village hosted fur traders. The Wahpeton exchanged furs for trade goods like beads, blankets, awls, and knives. A fur trade post may have been constructed just north of the village. Whether a physical post existed or not, the fur trade had a dramatic affect on the Wahpeton economy. European trade goods became a part of everyday life, presenting alternatives to traditionally manufactured items.

In the 1830s, the Wahpeton leaders Wanaksante (Rebounding Iron) and Kinyan (Red Eagle), along with Mazamani, met with Indian Agent Lawrence Taliaferro. They expressed interest in practicing more intensive agriculture at the summer village site and asked for seeds, plows, and the construction of a corn mill. In 1843, missionaries Stephen and Mary Riggs visited the village and expressed their intention to establish a mission there. The Wahpeton leaders rejected their offer, not wanting any missionaries in the vicinity.

In 1851, Wahpeton leaders from Inyan Ceyaka attended the treaty negotiations at Traverse des Sioux. Mazamani’s son (Mazamani II) signed the treaty that ceded the land on which the village site was located. In the summer of 1853, the inhabitants of the village moved to a Dakota reservation on the Minnesota River.

The U.S.–Dakota War of 1862 fragmented Dakota society, and Mazamani II was killed in the fighting. Many of the Wahpeton from Inyan Ceyaka were removed from the state or traveled west. In the 1880s, some Wahpeton originally from the village began returning to Minnesota.

In 1999, the village site at Little Rapids was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2015, it was part of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Carver Rapids Management Unit.

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Babcock, Willoughby M. “Louis Provencalle, Fur Trader.” Minnesota History 20, no.3 (September 1939): 259–268.
http://collections.mnhs.org/MNHistoryMagazine/articles/20/v20i03p259-268.pdf

Gardner, Denis P. Minnesota Treasures: Stories Behind the State’s Historic Places. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2004.

Long, Stephen H. Voyage in a Six-Oared Skiff to the Falls of Saint Anthony in 1817. Philadelphia: Henry B. Ashmean, Book and Job Printer, 1860.
https://books.google.com/books?id=sQY8AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA114&lpg=PA114&dq=Fort+Lewis+and+Trading+Post+and+Minnesota#v=onepage&q&f=false

“Minnesota Department of Transportation Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory, CR-CKC-057.”
http://www.dot.state.mn.us/roadsides/historic/files/iforms/CR-CKC-057.pdf

Nute, Grace Lee. “Posts in the Minnesota Fur Trading Area, 1660–1855.” Minnesota History 11, no. 4, (December 1930): 353–385.
http://collections.mnhs.org/MNHistoryMagazine/articles/11/v11i04p353-385.pdf

Spector, Janet. What This Awl Means. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1991.
Editor’s Note: This book was the main source used in the writing of this article.

Related Images

Color image of a Dakota summer lodge, ca. 1846–1848. Watercolor painting by Seth Eastman.
Color image of a Dakota summer lodge, ca. 1846–1848. Watercolor painting by Seth Eastman.
Graphite drawing of a Dakota woman processing a hide, c.1845. Drawing by Seth Eastman.
Graphite drawing of a Dakota woman processing a hide, c.1845. Drawing by Seth Eastman.
Water color painting of a Medicine Dance of the Dakota, 1849. Painting by Seth Eastman.
Water color painting of a Medicine Dance of the Dakota, 1849. Painting by Seth Eastman.
Oil on canvas painting of Dakota Indians in council, 1852. Painting by Seth Eastman
Oil on canvas painting of Dakota Indians in council, 1852. Painting by Seth Eastman
Maza Mani
Maza Mani
Black and white photograph of Jean Baptiste Faribault, c.1850.
Black and white photograph of Jean Baptiste Faribault, c.1850.

Turning Point

In 1843, missionaries Stephen and Mary Riggs visit the village at Inyan Ceyaka. Wahpeton leaders decline their proposal to establish a mission on the site.

Chronology

c.100 CE

Paleo-Americans inhabit Inyan Ceyaka Otunwe and construct burial mounds.

1794

Archibald John Campbell begins trading in the vicinity of Inyan Ceyaka, likely with the Wahpeton Dakota.

1800

Written sources record the presence of the Wahpeton Dakota at Inyan Ceyaka.

1802

Fur trader Jean Baptiste Faribault begins trading at Inyan Ceyaka. He continues to do so until 1847.

May 27, 1827

Wahpeton Dakota from Inyan Ceyaka are involved in a deadly confrontation with a group of Ojibwe at the St. Peters Indian Agency.

1833

Jean Baptiste Faribault is stabbed and injured by a Wahpeton Dakota at Inyan Ceyaka. Faribault had been attempting to repossess trade goods.

1834

A census conducted by Indian Agent Lawrence Taliaferro lists Mazamani as a “chief” at Inyan Ceyaka.

1838

In September, Mazamani (Walking Iron) dies of smallpox.

1843

Missionaries Stephen and Mary Riggs stop at the village. Their offer to establish a mission there is rejected by the Wahpeton.

1851

On July 23, the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux is signed by Mazamani II and other Dakota leaders. The United States formally gains control of the land around, and including, Inyan Ceyaka.

1853

During the summer, the Wahpeton of Inyan Ceyaka move to the Upper Sioux Reservation near the Laq qui Parle Mission.

1862

Mazamani II is killed during the U.S.-Dakota War. Many Dakota from Inyan Ceyaka Otunwe are removed from the state.

1880s

Some Dakota formerly from Inyan Ceyaka Otunwe begin returning to Minnesota.

1980

In the summer, archeological fieldwork under the direction of Janet D. Spector begins at the site of Inyan Ceyaka. Fieldwork continues for the next three years, with the participation of some of Mazamani’s descendents.

1999

The site of Inyan Ceyaka is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.