This month marks the 150th anniversary for the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. On August 22nd the Northfield Historical Society (NHS) will open a new exhibit, 1862 Through Rice County’s Eyes. Most Minnesotans know the overall story of the war, but the exhibit will highlight how certain residents of Rice County played important roles in this episode of our state’s history.
Taking advantage of the opportunity to partner with the Rice County Historical Society and other organizations allowed us to share the unique perspectives that include extremes of locals involved. Rolin C. Olin, who lived in Northfield for ten years, led the trials of over 400 Dakota as Judge Advocate and signed over 300 death sentences. Bishop Henry Whipple, Minnesota’s first Episcopal Bishop, stood out as one of the only committed advocates for Dakota rights. In doing so, he received permission for the only safe-haven in Minnesota for Dakota during the eviction – on Alexander Faribault’s land here in Rice County. Those who moved to this haven (Faribault) included Dakota who worked for peace, like Snana who took in a white girl and protected her as her own child during the fighting.
As varied as these and other local perspectives may be, any exploration of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 suffers from the inevitable limitations facing every historical examination – limitations such as scope and biases, past and present, which impact the telling and perception of the stories and data. In presenting the exhibit 1862, Through Rice County’s Eyes this fall, NHS endeavors to draw visitors into thoughtful interest and discussion of this momentous event and its aftermath by sharing local connections. Come and critically examine this exhibit.
The exhibit opens on August 22 at 6:00 p.m. in the Northfield Historical Society. We are located at 408 Division Street.