That’s how they would hide.

Ms. Swenson describes her family's escape from Minnesota after the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.

Audio Chapters

DL: I’m glad you brought that up, because I wanted to ask you next about anything you recall hearing about the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War, during your growing up years. Do you have any family members who lived through that time, or later ones who talked about it?

LS: We have a relative in Canada, and her, was it her grandmother – she said it took them seven years to get from here to where they are now, at Sioux Valley [Canada]. She told me that because it was all prairie, they had to travel in the day, they would dig down into the ground and lay that buffalo robe over the top – buffalo skin.

DL: To hide?

LS: To hide, because they’d look over the prairie and they’ll see nothing but flat. And they’d be laying, dug in, and it would be cool with that skin over the top. So when the troops were coming looking for them, they’d look and see nobody and keep going. And of course they’d travel by night; not dark, dark, but towards dusk and real early.

DL: They walked then. They couldn’t have horses because you could see.

LS: No.

DL: So they started from where?

LS: They started from Lower Sioux here; that’s where they were all from.

DL: And walked up to Canada.

LS: Yes.

DL: And it took seven years.

LS: Seven years.

DL: How did they survive along the way?

LS: Berries, I suppose, and probably fish. They dried their foods.

DL: Do you know if they had help from any people along the way?

LS: She never did say. She just said that that’s what sticks out in my memory when she was talking.

DL: The way they had to hide at night.

LS: Yes. And even during the day, that’s how they would hide.

DL: And this is what kind of relative to you?

LS: She would be my grandma’s cousin, [unintelligible] Lottie. Lottie’s cousin. She said that’s how they….

DL: They survived.

LS: Yes.

Well, at that time there was a bounty on all the Indians. I suppose a lot of them got away maybe after the riverboat ride; maybe even before. I didn’t get to hear that much of a detail, but I just heard that’s how they got there. And then one thing she said: if somebody passed away along the way, they’d put them in a tree, say their good-byes and then go, because they couldn’t carry them.

Oral History- Interview | Narrator LaVonne Swenson Interviewer Deborah Locke made in Morton, Lower Sioux Community, MN | Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. That’s how they would hide. April 18, 2024.

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