It is not well known that Minnesota was simultaneously caught up in two civil wars during the 1860s. Even while contributing to the Union forces battling the Confederacy, Minnesota was also fighting an intense conflict between white settlers and the Dakota people. Newly ratified as a state, Minnesota’s local government made treaties with Native American tribes offering to buy their land. As the civil war progressed with Minnesota sending hundreds of men to battle, tension with the Dakota tribes increased. The Dakota War of 1862 played a large part on Minnesota’s history, killing over one thousand white settlers, soldiers and Dakota people, impacting the history of Minnesota forever.
Minnesota played a small part in a large war. At the outbreak of war in 1861, Minnesota (with a population of about 180,000) was the newest state in the union and the first to volunteer troops in its defense. Over 22,000 Minnesotans served in 23 different volunteer military organizations between 1861 and 1866. Over half of Minnesota’s Civil War soldiers served time in the Dakota War before heading south to fight Confederates. Due to the sudden uprising of the Dakota people, Minnesota was forced to recall some of their troops from the Union Army to help gain control over the Dakota.
Through the years of 1805 all the way to the 1850s multiple treaties were made with the Dakota/Sioux people of Minnesota. The originally initiated treaties of 1805 asked the Dakota to sell Minnesota land along the Mississippi river were Minnesota could eventually start building trading posts. As the years passed Minnesota began pressuring the Dakota to give up more land until eventually the Dakota had ceded all land west of the Mississippi. In 1851 the treaty of “Traverse des Sioux” was signed which stated that the Dakota, in exchange for all of their remaining land, would be given one hundred and fifty mile reservations to live upon as well as 30 cents an acre, and annuity payments throughout the...
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