Military Land Warrants in Minnesota, 1854–1863

State militia soldiers fought many wars against Britain, Mexico, and American Indian nations to take land for the United States. The federal government rewarded them with military land warrants—certificates that could be redeemed for up to 160 acres of U.S. public land. The warrants were quickly sold and then traded on Wall Street to land agents in the country’s western territories. The agents made huge profits from selling and loaning them to struggling farmers. In Minnesota, German immigrants used land warrants to buy Dakota land, start farms, and found the town of New Ulm.

Black and white photograph of Ojibwe family, c.1860.

Ojibwe family

Ojibwe family, c.1860.

Black and white photograph of Quewesansish (Bad Boy), c.1860. Quewesansish was a leader of the Gull Lake Ojibwe.

Quewesansish (Bad Boy)

Quewesansish (Bad Boy), c.1860. Quewesansish was a leader of the Gull Lake Ojibwe.

Treaty of Washington, 1855

The Treaty of Washington (1855) is a milestone in the history of Ojibwe people in Minnesota. The agreement ceded a large portion of Ojibwe land to the U.S. government and created the Leech Lake and Mille Lacs reservations.

Black and white photograph of Dakota Indians at Williamson home (Pajutazee Mission) near Yellow Medicine, 1862.

Dakota Indians at Williamson home (Pajutazee Mission) near Yellow Medicine

Dakota Indians at Williamson home (Pajutazee Mission) near Yellow Medicine, 1862. Jane Williamson is the third from the right in this photograph taken on Sunday, August 17, 1862, the day before the U.S. Dakota War broke out across the Minnesota prairies. The photo was taken by visiting photographer Adrian Ebell in front of the Williamson house at the Pajutazee mission. Others identified include, left to right: Margaret Poage Williamson, unknown child, Sarah Hopkins (Wanyahiyawin), Thomas Smith Williamson, unknown woman with child, Robert Hopkins (Caskedan), Jane Williamson, Samuel Hopkins, unknown woman.

Black and white photograph of a view of La Pointe with Bayfield in the distance, 1875.

View of La Pointe with Bayfield in the distance

View of La Pointe with Bayfield in the distance, 1875.

Black and white photograph of an Indian Congregation, Sawyer, Fond du Lac Reservation, 1909–1912.

Indian Congregation, Sawyer, Fond du Lac Reservation

Indian Congregation, Sawyer, Fond du Lac Reservation, 1909–1912.

Black and white photograph of Ojibwe at Grand Portage Reservation, 1885.

Ojibwe at Grand Portage Reservation

Ojibwe at Grand Portage Reservation, 1885.

Color map of Indian Land Cessions and Reservations in Minnesota to 1858

Indian Land Cessions and Reservations to 1858

Map of the lands within Minnesota Territory ceded by American Indians by 1858. Reproduced in Making Minnesota Territory, 1849–1858 (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1999), page 7.

Black and white photograph of annuities being paid at the Fond Du Lac reservation, c.1865.

Annuities being paid at the Fond Du Lac reservation

Annuities being paid at the Fond Du Lac reservation, c.1865.

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