"Historical Society returns 114 acres to Lower Sioux" (metro, Feb. 21) was an interesting article. But there is more to the story that the reader should know about.
It was at the site in question, on Aug. 18, 1862, that Dakota, unhappy with their situation for a variety of reasons, made a surprise attack on the Lower Sioux Agency. They killed at least 25 government employees and traders.
The article is correct in stating that 38 Dakota men were hanged later that year in the largest mass execution in U.S. history. But the other side of the coin is that this came in response to the deadliest Indian uprising in U.S. history, with at least 600 white men, women and children being killed by the Dakota that summer. That included 100 children age 10 or under. No Dakota women or children were killed.
Huge actions, such as the killing of 600, generate huge reactions, such as the hanging of the 38.
Lower Sioux President Robert Larsen was quoted stating that "[Our ancestors] paid for this land over and over with their blood, with their lives." Yet at this site, it was white blood that was shed. There were probably no Dakota killed at this site during the Aug. 18 attack, or afterward. And there were many more white people killed in the 1862 war as a whole — 600 — than Dakota — 75 to 100.
Of the 25 people killed at the Lower Sioux Agency, about 20 are still buried there, in unmarked graves. While most of those graves are probably not on the 114 acres transferred, some certainly are, as the 114 acres were a part of the Lower Sioux Agency as it existed in 1862. And the Aug. 18 killings took place all over the agency.
The site is essentially a large cemetery, with burials scattered at unknown locations. Consequently, it is sacred ground. The historic record contains information on where many of the 25 were killed. And we know that most of them were buried where they were killed.
So today, markers should be placed at those sites so visitors will more fully know the story of what took place there.
The Lower Sioux Agency Historic Site is a place where the Dakota and white Minnesotans share their history. And that history must be related in its entirety, because history matters.
Curtis Dahlin lives in Roseville.