Minnesota’s Dakota War of 1862

Click on the image to visit the podcast website.

Click on the image above to access the podcast.

Perhaps the most significant event in Minnesota history is the Dakota War of 1862. While the U.S. was engulfed in the Civil War, hundreds of white settlers in sparsely-populated Minnesota were killed by Dakota warriors. Thousands of other pioneers abandoned their farms never to return. Within months after the conflict, 38 Dakota men were hanged in the Mankato town square and thousands of Dakota people were violently driven from the state whether or not they had anything to do with the conflict.

According to the Kensington Rune Stone inscription, the Norse explorers visited Minnesota and were killed by “skrælings” in 1362. In the book I argue that it is more than a coincidence that there is a 500-year gap between the dates. It is my contention that the Dakota War of 1862 influenced both the creation of the runic inscription in late nineteenth century and its interpretation in the early twentieth century. The podcast “Little War on the Prairie” is from This American Life and provides some helpful background. You will hear from Mary Lethert Wingerd who wrote a blurb for Myths of the Rune Stone.


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