That Fort is a sham. It's a Fort whose history is shameful.

Dr. Canku talks about Fort Snelling and what should be done to commemorate it's true history.

Words to look for: 
Concentration Camp
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What should be done to recognize the entire history of Fort Snelling?

Audio Chapters

When we go below Fort Snelling in that cultural – I don't know what you call it – that cultural setting or center or whatever you call it, below the bridge there, we see spirits, mostly women. Along the bluff. The last spirit we saw was a woman, she had a shawl on. And half of her shawl was red and half was yellow. So we feel a connection with the ancient spirits of the people who were incarcerated there. Like myself, I had a pipe ceremony, using my pipe. And all of a sudden, a chief came and stood beside me, and another shorter person. And this chief had all buckskin on, and he was very astonishing-looking. And I felt it, but some of my friends down here, relatives are here, spiritual relatives are here, and they're standing beside you. You just see, kind of like a light. So I've had those experiences of having relatives come when I come there, from the spirit world. It's affirming in some way.

DL: There are some Dakota who have told us here at this institution that Fort Snelling should be burned down, that that whole area should be destroyed. There are some Dakota who have told us that the Fort should stay up as a place for remembrance. And there are some who have told us, who are veterans – that in their hearts it still is the symbol of a fort. It is still part of military history that supersedes anything that happened there in 1860. And for that reason they want it to remain as it is. Which of these is accurate to you, or perhaps you feel a different way?

CC: I think the most important thing is to tell the truth. About how the land was swindled from us as Dakota people. It's shameful. It's a place of shame that should be corrected in whatever way, in our modern sense of justice. What can we do? That's the message I get every time the spirits come, is that we need to clean up our act. And that Fort is a sham. It's a Fort whose history is shameful. And so, its use is no longer applicable to us today. Maybe a historical marker could be placed there, and just tear it down. There may be something futuristic, in terms of something that would help us today that could be erected there. Because I think -- what if we went to Germany, and some of those concentration camps. And we want to commemorate and stand there, and we'll say, “It's our history as veterans” – and these are Nazis. Would we go along with that? I don't think we would. And like myself, I'm a veteran. I served for years in the U.S. Army. But at the same time, anything that's shameful, I don't want to be a part of. I'm more optimistic for the young people. What can we do for our young people to make it a lot more truthful? How can they benefit from an old thing like that? Like myself, I wouldn't like young people to perpetuate this mythology that it's a good place. It's a shameful place.

Oral History- Interview | Narrator Dr. Clifford Canku Interviewer Deborah Locke made at Minnesota History Center, St. Paul, MN | Friday, June 10, 2011

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. That Fort is a sham. It's a Fort whose history is shameful. April 18, 2024.

Viewpoints: All viewpoints expressed on this website are those of the contributors, and are not representative of the Minnesota Historical Society.