Dakota Activists Protest Fort Snelling Preservation

By Craig Stellmacher


It was a big news day at the Capital on Monday–Gov Pawlenty released his new budget. It was also “Rally for History” Day in the Capital Rotunda, a day set aside to celebrate Minnesota’s history.


Many were surprised then, that for some it wasn’t a day to celebrate.


The Rally for History crowd, applauds at the start when the protesters are led away.


For some, it’s a day to mark a genocide in Minnesota.


This is the third year in a row, Dakota activists have challenged the funding of Fort Snelling. They find this all the more troubling, given that Gov. Pawlenty announced millions in social spending cuts, the same day. The Minnesota Historical Society, is asking for $6.7 million to preserve Fort Snelling, at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers.


Activists point out : This fort is a replica not the original, and that this site is not only what is considered a genocide inside the Dakota community, but it is also the site of their creation story, it is sacred ground.


I talked to several activists in the rotunda, including Eric Angell and Dr. Waziyatawin, who explained the Dakota viewpoint. Also, we see in the video their unfurled banners from the balcony, and we see activists asked to leave by State Troopers when they unfurled a banner in front of the Rally for History speakers. No arrests were made.


The myspace photo page of the History Society, carefully misses any photos of the protesters. It shows, “Second floor in the rotunda, people gather to watch the speakers”, but somehow avoids any image of the protesters that were up there.


At the start of the video, MN Historical Society Dir. Nina Archabal says : “…shouting at each other, hardly seems the way to advance our understanding.” But the Minnesota Historical Society, doesn’t seem to notice the Dakota activists even with their banners and shouting.

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