Travel: Retracing the 1862 Dakota War that shaped Minnesota

"Amid the patchwork quilted farm fields of corn and soybeans in Meeker County, Donna and Scott Whitcomb have a monument planted in their front yard. It's right next to a galvanized steel grain bin with the ironic brand name "Sioux" emblazoned up top in yellow.

You'll find the squat obelisk monument 4 miles south of Grove City just off Hwy. 4 in Acton Township. Just remounted on a new stone base, it commemorates the deadly dispute that left five settlers fatally shot near a trading post, igniting the bloody six-week U.S.-Dakota War that erupted in southern Minnesota 150 summers ago. It's one of dozens of monuments that punctuate the Minnesota landscape, off-the-beaten-path reminders of the awful history that shaped the state's early years.

"I grew up here, but my husband had to get used to people driving through the yard all the time and stopping to ask questions," says Donna, 50, whose family has lived in the area for six generations.

She has studied the myriad accounts of what happened on Aug. 17, 1862. If you're lucky enough to find her at home, she's happy to serve as a volunteer tour guide. She can even walk you over to the depression in the nearby woods where the trading post's cellar stored roots and whiskey. "I try to get people to understand that there are two sides to this story," she says, "and they have to have an open mind."

Get the Story:
Travel: Retracing the war that shaped Minnesota (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 8/25)

Related Stories:
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Opinion: Looking back at impacts of the Dakota War of 1862 (8/21)
Editorial: Resentment festers 150 years after the Dakota War (8/13)

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