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Minnesota Historical Society: The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862

In the midst of the U.S. Civil War, the U.S.- Dakota War, a brief but violent conflict between white settlers and Dakota Native Americans, took place in Minnesota. This war centered on the failure of the U.S. government to make timely payments owed to the Dakota Nation in accordance to an 1858 treaty. The resulting war lasted six weeks and ended when Abraham Lincoln signed an order to execute 38 Dakota men on December 26, 1862 in Mankato, Minnesota - an event that remains, to this day, the largest mass execution in the United States. This website, curated by the Minnesota Historical Society, is home to a number of powerful resources and primary documents to help students and the general public better understand the causes and consequences of this war and the experiences of both Dakota individuals and white settlers in Minnesota. These resources include documentary clips, a variety of historic and contemporary maps, and tools for educators. A powerful - and painful - highlight of this website is a large collection of interviews with individuals whose ancestors were involved in the U.S.-Dakota War. These stories, which come from the descendants on both sides of the conflict, vividly illustrate how the war impacted all Minnesotans in 1862.
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