Although most of our campus is primarily concerned with celebrating Gustavus’ sesquicentennial, another historic event occurred 150 years ago. The Dakota-US War of 1862 which resulted in hundreds of deaths and the hanging of 38 Dakota men, was commemorated this year in a variety of ways, including the six part lecture series organized by Professor of English Elizabeth Baer and Executive Director of the Nicollet County Historical Society Ben Leonard, who also co-taught the January Interim Experience class, “Commemorating Controversy: The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.”
Speakers included Dr. John Peacock, Glenn Wasicuna, Dr. Gary Clayton Anderson, Thomas Maltman, Corinne Monjeau-Marz and Dr. Gwen Wasicuna. Between the six of them, varying perspectives were presented, ranging from Dakota community members to authors to Minnesotan historians. Audience members reached numbers over 1,000 and included students, Dakota elders, professors, faculty and St. Peter community members.
According to Professor Baer, “Our hope in presenting this lecture series at Gustavus is to create a space for college-community dialogue.”
In looking back at the overwhelmingly large number of attendees, the types of people who listened to the lectures, and the discussions that followed them, it is apparent that this lecture series was effective in sparking discussion between the Mankato and St. Peter communities, Dakota members and countless others.
In response to which speaker stood out as especially poignant, student Laurel Bowman recalls, “As for Gwen, the standing ovation pretty much sums up her lecture. She touched us intellectually and emotionally—a fitting end to our lecture series. Perhaps most importantly, her placement in the series meant that it was not a white person, but a Dakota person that had the last word. Very fitting for a history that has so long been told from the white perspective.”
For more information on the lecture series visit the Gustavus homepage and search “Dakota Lecture series,” or to view videos of the lectures visit http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/gacadmin.portal# and click the tab, “on demand.”