Native American Press / Ojibwe News

Nov 15, 2002
photo: Commemorative Walk to Fort Snelling

photos: Maxine Eidsvig
Lenoir Waylon, 12, carried the eagle staff on the final leg of the commemorative walk on Wednesday, Nov. 13, along Minnesota Highway 13 in Eagan.

photo: Dakota commemoration, Fort Snelling

Chris Mato Nunpa addressing the commemorative walkers upon their arrival at the site of the Fort Snelling internment camp.

Retracing the steps of our ancestors

By Maxine V. Eidsvig

One hundred and forty years ago approximately 1,700 Dakota men, women and children were forced to walk from the Lower Sioux Agency to Fort Snelling where they were interned for the winter of 1862-63. They were the innocent victims of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. Chris Mato Nunpa, a Dakota and American Indian Studies professor at Southwest State University, who organized a commemorative walk said “The march is to remember and honor these people.”

The walk began at the present site of the Lower Sioux Indian Community at Morton, MN on November 7th and ended on the 13th at the Fort Snelling State Park, where the internment camp was located. Once spring arrived and the ice on the Mississippi River had

broken up, the approximately 1,700 men, women and children were placed aboard boats for their journey down the Mississippi, and up the Missouri River to Crow Creek, a remote area in Dakota Territory. Thus began their exile from the State of Minnesota, which was angrily demanded by the white citizens.

While many of the 100 to 200 people on this first commemorative walk were descendants of the Dakota who made the original forced walk, there were others who joined in the walk. In addition to U.S. Indians, people from the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan in Canada, and from Mexico and England participated in the walk.
Mato Nunpa said he had anticipated some racial incidents along the walk but was happy to report there were none.