On May 11th, 1858, Minnesota became the 32nd state admitted to the Union. Now, more than 150 years later, UMP is releasing a book by historian Mary Lethert Wingerd about the lesser-known details of Minnesota’s origins. North Country: The Making of Minnesota, a fully illustrated volume that was commissioned by the University of Minnesota, unlocks the deeply tragic, violent and complex origins of the state that have often been buried in favor of legend and a more benign image of immigration, settlement, and cultural exchange.
Wingerd recently told the Pioneer Press:
The biggest myth is that Indians in Minnesota country were hostile to whites. In fact, there were almost no incidents of Indian attacks on white people, Europeans or Americans. When rare cases did occur, it was always an individual spat and not an organized attack. The Dakota and Ojibwe went to great lengths not to drive traders away. The Dakota were frustrated with trying to get traders to establish a stable source because they needed guns. All the tribes to the East had been supplied with firearms in the early 1600s by the Dutch and English, and it didn’t matter how terrific the Dakota were as warriors. Without guns, they were at a huge disadvantage in intertribal disputes.
Wingerd will read from North Country and present a slideshow of some of the book’s telling images at 7 tonight at the Minnesota History Center.