The Legislature is taking steps to put one of Minnesota's most painful chapters to rest.
The state's Lincoln Bicentennial Commission recently discovered that the 1863 law President Abraham Lincoln signed banishing the Dakota Indians from the state remains on the books. Today, the state House may consider a resolution asking Congress to formally repeal the act.
The measure directs Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to send copies of the resolution to President Obama, congressional leaders and members of the Minnesota delegation.
The law's "terms are obsolete and its presence is a continuing offense," the resolution says.
"There's still some open wounds, as I've discovered," said Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, the bill's chief sponsor. "This seemed like a largely symbolic but important thing to do, to take a bad law off the books."
Urdahl, whose great-great-grandfather helped bury the first white victims, is author of two historical novels on the Dakota Conflict of 1862.
The war between the Dakota and white settlers followed broken promises of federal payments that threatened the tribe with starvation.
The six-week prairie war killed hundreds of whites and Indians and ended with the largest mass execution in U.S. history, when 38 Indians were hanged in Mankato.
Lincoln chose the 38 from among 303 Indians who had been condemned to death. Pam Halverson, tribal history preservation officer for the Lower Sioux Community in Morton, Minn., said that repeal of the law would be a step toward healing, especially in southern Minnesota where the war occurred. Kevin Duchschere • 651-292-0164