If we can learn what not to do, there’s some good to come from it.

Mr. Sveine talks about the importance of teaching the events of 1862.

Things to think about: 

When and how should children be taught about sensitive subjects?

Audio Chapters

I regret that so much, that that huge event wasn’t passed down to us. And I’m not indicting my own parents about it, but our school systems and why that wasn’t something that was mandatorily taught. It was the biggest event in our town’s history; why would you not be teaching that? It’s often called the biggest event in the state. Now, the good news is we’ve learned, and the kids, at least in New Ulm, are taught this. In 3rd grade they do the Katie Groper walk, which I think you know about, do you?

DL: No.

TS: Katie Groper was a 12-year-old lady here during the war, and as an adult she wrote her memoirs, which the museum has then turned into a walking tour of downtown. And so the kids are given that in 3rd grade; I believe the Lutheran and Catholic parochial schools do the tour as well. And then in 6th grade, I can tell you for a fact, because I’m in charge of the program through the Chamber, the 5th and 6th graders, depending on the class make-up, are given a city-wide tour touching on the war quite a bit.

DL: As a child, what did you learn about history from the pageant?

TS: I never went to the pageant, so I don’t know. I’m so annoyed that that was just not part of our having grown up. It’s sad.

DL: Is it a good idea to commemorate the events of the mid 1800’s?

TS: Yes, I think for sure. As maybe the listeners don’t know, I’m sitting on the Brown County 150th Anniversary Commemoration Committee. We have a long, convoluted name; I’m not sure if that’s actually our title, but anyway, I wouldn’t be sitting on this, volunteering my time, if I didn’t think it was important. History should always be commemorated, remembered, even the unpleasant things should, ideally with the noble intent that you don’t repeat the past where it’s not worth repeating. But if nothing else, you still have to remember it. People are people. Human nature doesn’t change. If we can learn, gosh, we’re people, and just 150 years ago these people fought just like we did; different context in time, but I don’t think people were essentially different. And so if we can learn what not to do, there’s some good to come from it.

Oral History- Interview | Narrator Terry Sveine Interviewer Deborah Locke made in New Ulm, MN | Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. If we can learn what not to do, there’s some good to come from it. November 21, 2019. http://www.usdakotawar.org/node/1121

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