U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 Speaker Series Jan. 4-26 in Alumni Hall

Posted on December 17th, 2011 by

Medicine Dance of the Sioux or Dakotah Indians on the St. Peters River near Fort Snelling 1847, Seth Eastman (1808-1875), from the collection of the Minnesota Historical Society

Please note that all lectures for the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 Speakers Series have been moved to Alumni Hall to accommodate larger audiences.

Gustavus Adolphus College will host a series of six lectures during the month of January to commemorate the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. The lectures are being held in conjunction with a January Interim Experience class titled “Commemorating Controversy: The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862,” being taught by Professor of English Elizabeth Baer and Executive Director of the Nicollet County Historical Society Ben Leonard.

As Gustavus opened its doors to students in the fall of 1862, a war was raging across southern Minnesota between the Dakota Indians and the white settlers. Thirty-eight Dakota were hung in Mankato on December 26, 1862 by order of President Abraham Lincoln in what remains the largest mass execution in United States history. The conflict left deep wounds that remain unhealed today and it also resulted in the eradication of much of the heritage of the Dakota in the region.

“Our hope in presenting this lecture series at Gustavus is to create a space for college-community dialogue,” said Professor Baer. “As Ben and I have worked on the series, we have become increasingly aware that the US-Dakota War remains a sensitive topic for many Minnesotans. As 2012 marks the Sesquicentennial of the war, the series will provide an opportunity for the audience to hear perspectives of Dakota and non-Dakota, historians, a novelist, and scholars involved in research on Dakota traditions, culture, and language.”

The following lectures will all take place from 4-5:30 p.m. in Alumni Hall, located on the upper level of the O.J. Johnson Student Union near the center of campus. All lectures are free and open to the public. Free, adjacent parking is available.

Wednesday, Jan. 4: Dr. John Peacock, “War of Words: Writings by Dakota People in Their Own Language and Later in English During and After the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862”
Dr. Peacock is Rinehart Critic-in-Residence and Professor of Language, Literature, and Culture at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. He is a former Wesleyan University Mellon Fellow, University of Antwerp Fulbright Lecturer, and grantee of the American Philosophical Society and the Montgomery Council Maryland Arts and Humanities Council. An enrolled member of the Spirit Lake Dakota Nation in Fort Totten, North Dakota, his writing in English and the endangered Dakota language has been exhibited at the Minnesota History Center and published in American Indian Quarterly and in Studies in American Indian Literatures.

Thursday, Jan. 5: Glenn Wasicuna, “A Dakota Way of Life”
Wasicuna is the Director of Dakota Language Studies at Tiospa Zina Tribal School, which is owned and operated by the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate in South Dakota. He has taught the Dakota language at tribal colleges, Gustavus, and served as a consultant to the University of Minnesota on the Dakota language. He was the Editor/Publisher of The Dakota Times, a Canadian newspaper, for more than a dozen years. He will discuss every day Dakota culture, customs, and worldview.

Tuesday, Jan. 10: Dr. Gary Clayton Anderson, “The Dakota War Trials: Travesty of Justice or Reasonable Retribution?”
Anderson is George Lynn Cross Research Professor at the University of Oklahoma and is considered the foremost historian on the US-Dakota War. His books include The Indian Southwest 1580-1830: Ethnogenesis and Cultural Reinvention, Sitting Bull and the Paradox of Lakota Nationhood, Kinsmen of Another Kind: Dakota-White Relations in the Upper Mississippi Valley, 1650-1862, and Through Dakota Eyes: Narrative Accounts of the Minnesota Indian War of 1862. Anderson is currently working on a book on Indians and the Great Plains Wars, 1830-1890.

Tuesday, Jan. 17: Thomas Maltman, “Based on a True Story: Researching a Controversial History to Create Fiction”
Maltman’s essays, poetry, and fiction have recently been published in Georgetown Review, Great River Review, and Main Channel Voices, among other journals. He has a B.A. from Eastern Washington University and an M.F.A from Minnesota State University, Mankato. His debut novel, The Night Birds, was released by Soho Press in August of 2008 and won an Alex Award from the American Library Association. He is currently the Visiting Artist in Creative Writing at Normandale Community College. Maltman’s forthcoming second novel, Little Wolves, is a contemporary mystery that takes place in the same prairie country as The Night Birds.

Tuesday, Jan. 24: Corinne Monjeau-Marz, “Aftermath of the 1862 War: Reviewing the Years from 1862-1866”
Monjeau-Marz is a researcher and author who has devoted her latest efforts to exploring the extraordinarily challenging and culturally catastrophic transition the Dakota people experienced during the time of early European settlement in Minnesota. She will share her recent research and discuss her work on “Alexander Ramsey’s Words of War” from the first issue of Minnesota’s Heritage magazine. She will also discuss her book, The Dakota Indian Internment at Fort Snelling, 1862-1864, as well as her contributions to Trail of Tears: Minnesota’s Dakota Indian Exile Begins.

Thursday, Jan. 26: Dr. Gwen Westerman, “We Are Still Here”
Dr. Westerman serves as the Director of the Native American Literature Symposium, is the recipient of several prestigious grants, and has published widely on contemporary American Indian literature. She is a poet and artist and has published her poetry in Yellow Medicine Review, Water-Stone Review, and other journals. Westerman is an English professor at Minnesota State University, Mankato specializing in multi-cultural and Native American literature. Her lecture will focus on the lives of modern Dakota and their special place in Minnesota today.

All six lectures in the series will be live streamed and archived for future viewing purposes. To access live and archived events, go online to the Gustavus Live Streaming Portal. A schedule of upcoming live events will be shown under the “Live Events” tab, while a listing of archived events will be available under the “On Demand” tab.

This U.S.-Dakota War lecture series is made possible with funds from Gustavus Adolphus College, Minnesota Humanities Council, and the State of Minnesota through the Minnesota Historical Society from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

If you have questions or need more information about this speaker series, contact Baer (507-933-7324 or ebaer@gustavus.edu) or Leonard (507-934-2160 or ben@nchsmn.org).


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin



  1. Paul Tidemann, GA 60 President says:

    I am so glad GA is doing this. It is really important. I hope to get down for one of the lectures.

  2. Sonya Zapata says:

    I hope that this will be filmed on video for future generations.