--- Via guest blogger and veteran reporter Curt Brown ---

ST. PETER, MINN. – A 20-year-old student asked the last and central question following the latest lecture in series of talks at Gustavus Adolphus College on the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War.

“This is the first I’ve ever heard of any of this,” she said. “What’s wrong with our education system?”

The Gusatvus lecture series is part of a January Interim Experience class titled "Commemorating Controversy: The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862." This year marks the 150th anniversary of the war, which ended with the largest mass execution in U.S. history when 38 Dakota men were hanged in Mankato the day after Christmas.

Gustavus opened the same year as the war, which erupted along the Minnesota River Valley after late annuity payments and broken treaties left many Dakota near starvation. Approximately 500 settlers were killed in New Ulm and other frontier towns.

Tuesday’s lecture featured University of Oklahoma historian Gary Clayton Anderson’s analysis of the unjust trials that led to what he called President Abraham Lincoln's arbitrary decision to hang 40 Dakota fighters. “Was 50 too many and 30 not enough?” he said. “That was the thinking in the White House.”

Two were granted last-minute reprieves and several were hanged strictly for participating in battles – a violation of the rules of war, Anderson said.

More than 200 people packed the Alumni Hall, including members of the Dakota community from the Lower Sioux area.

According to the Gustavus news release, here is the information about the next three talks, which start at 4 p.m., last a little more than an hour and are free:

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 the Georgetown Review, Great River Review, and Main Channel Voices, among other journals. 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.

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.

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.