Members of the Media Invited on a Free, Guided Tour of Historic Sites Related to the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862

For immediate release

Release dated: 
April 30, 2012
Media contacts: 

Julianna Olsen, Marketing and Communications, 651-259-3039,
Amy Danielson, Marketing and Communications, 651-259-3020,

Members of the Media Invited on a Free, Guided Tour of Historic Sites Related to the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862

Get the knowledge, pictures needed to tell one of the most important stories this year

Members of the media are invited to join Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) staff for a free, guided tour of historic sites related to the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 on Monday, May 21, 2012.  Transportation will be provided from the Minnesota History Center to historic sites in southwest Minnesota (see tour details below).   This tour is a free, highly visual and compelling way for members of the media to get the historical background and pictures they need to tell a story Minnesotans will be talking about this year.

Space is limited and reservations are on a first come, first served basis.  Please RSVP to the contacts listed above by Monday, May 14. Members of the media are also welcome to drive on their own and meet up with the tour at any of the stops. 

2012 marks 150 year since the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 was fought over six weeks in southwest Minnesota.  Broken treaties and promises by the U.S. government, unscrupulous practices by fur traders and crop failure all helped create tensions that erupted into war on August 18.  Hundreds of people died during and after the war, which ended with the largest mass execution in U.S. history in Mankato.  Even 150 years later, the war’s consequences are still felt in Minnesota and throughout the upper Midwest.  To learn more, visit

1862 Sites Media Tour Details

8 a.m.-6 p.m.,  Monday, May 21, 2012

Tom Ellig, MHS Historic Sites and Museums
Kevin Maijala, MHS Historical Programs and Education
Ben Leonard, Executive Director, Nicollet County Historical Society 

Free transportation leaves from the Minnesota History Center (345 Kellogg Blvd. West, St. Paul), at 8 a.m. and will return to the History Center at around 6 p.m.  Members of the media are also welcome to drive on their ownand meet up with the tour at any of the locations.

8:00 Leave the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul
10:30  Arrive at the Lower Sioux Agency, near Redwood Falls. 
11:30  Leave the Lower Sioux Agency
12:00  Arrive at Birch Coulee Battlefield, near Morton
12:30  Leave Birch Coulee Battlefield/Lunch (boxed lunches will be provided)
1:00 Arrive at Fort Ridgely, near Fairfax
2:00 Leave Fort Ridgely
3:00 Arrive at Traverse des Sioux/Treaty Site History Center, near St. Peter
4:00 Leave for the Minnesota History Center
6:00 Arrive at the Minnesota History Center

More About Tour Stops
If time permits, the tour may stop at additional sites/monuments related to the war.

Lower Sioux Agency,
The Lower Sioux Agency was one of two U.S. government Indian agencies established in 1853 to be the administrative centers of the newly created Dakota reservations resulting from the treaties of Traverse des Sioux and Mendota. On Aug. 18, 1862, in the first days of the U.S.-Dakota War, the agency was attacked and approximately 20 people were killed, either outright or trying to escape.  This site is managed by the Lower Sioux Indian Community.

Birch Coulee Battlefield,
The battle of Birch Coulee was one of the hardest fought battles of the war.  A burial detail of soldiers and civilians, dispatched from Fort Ridgely to bury the remains of settlers who had been killed in the early weeks of the U.S.-Dakota War, were attacked at dawn by Dakota. Badly outnumbered and highly exposed, the detail was under siege for nearly 36 hours until a detachment of soldiers from Fort Ridgely lifted the siege.

Fort Ridgely,
Built in the 1850s, Fort Ridgely was designed as a police station to keep peace as settlers poured into former Dakota lands after the treaties of Traverse des Sioux and Mendota in1851, in which the Eastern Dakota ceded 24 million acres to the U.S. government.  During the U.S.-Dakota War, the Dakota attacked the fort twice – on Aug. 20 and Aug. 22. 280 military personnel and civilians who sought refuge at the fort were relieved on Aug. 26 when Col. Henry Sibley and 1,400 soldiers arrived from Fort Snelling in St. Paul and ended the siege on Aug. 27.  This site is managed by the Nicollet County Historical Society.

Traverse des Sioux,
For centuries, Traverse des Sioux was a crossroads and meeting place for people of many cultures.  In 1851, the Sisseton and Wahpeton bands of Dakota signed a treaty there, transferring  approximately 24 million acres of Dakota land  to the government for white settlement. This site is managed by the Nicollet County Historical Society.  At the adjacent Nicollet County Treaty Site History Center, visitors can learn more about the region, the treaty and Dakota and settler life.

Select U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 initiatives by the Minnesota Historical Society are made possible by the Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008.