“Dont Let Them Ride Over Us”

Surrounded, starving, far from help, Major Forsyth and his gallant little band of scouts prepared to face wave after wave of Indians.

For five days, beginning September 17, 1868, a party of fifty frontier scouts under the command of Major George A. Forsyth held off an estimated four hundred to one thousand Cheyenne, Sioux, and Arapaho warriors on a small sand island in the nearly dry Arikaree fork of the Republican River in eastern Colorado. The island was later named Beecher Island, in honor of Lieutenant Frederick H. Beecher, a nephew of Henry Ward Beecher, who died there in one of the most dramatic battles ever fought between Indians and white men.

The Preposterous Pathfinder

Giacomo Beltrami’s discoveries were mostly illusory, but he had a glorious time making them, and the people of Minnesota have never forgotten his name.

In the serious story of the exploration of the Mississippi River, there is one unique and preposterous character. He is Giacomo Constantino Beltrami, an Italian of comic-opera proportions. Beltrami was in every way a glorious misfit. He was wayward, unpredictable, and humorous. It was impossible for him to be anything but a charming maverick, and when this dilettante set forth alone to discover the true source of the Mississippi, he did so in a gush of hyperbole.Read more »

“There Are No Indians Left Now But Me”

So spoke Sitting Bull, greatest of Sioux chiefs, as he bitterly watched his people bargain away their Dakota homeland

If Sitting Bull had not put his faith in a miracle, in the fateful winter of 1890, the American struggle with the Dakota Sioux—the last big Indian “war”—might have faded into a peaceful if pathetic accommodation between conqueror and conquered. But a miracle seemed the only refuge for the great old chief in that bitter season of a bitter year; and he thought he saw one coming.

Massacre!

Minnesota’s Sioux uprising began with senseless murder on a peaceful Sunday afternoon. Before it ended, the smell of death was everywhere

 

The day was August 17, 1862, a Sunday when most of the settlers in southwestern Minnesota were taking a Sabbath rest in the midst of the farmers’ yearly race to get in the ripe grain while the weather stayed good. If it was like most days in a Minnesota harvest season, there was a blue haze along the prairie horizon and the dusty smell of dry grass and wheat stubble in the air. Read more »