They had a bent sense of purpose

Mr. Owen talks about Fort Snelling and how a similar mentality has carried through until today.

Audio Chapters

DL: Any thoughts on Fort Snelling?

RO: Kind of like Nazi Germany’s oven house, Auschwitz. It wasn’t a place of brotherhood and unity and sharing. Not our idea of Dakota. They had a bent sense of purpose, colonization and forced religion, racism. I did the plaque down in the park down below.

DL: We’ve seen that.

RO: My brother, Clifford, shaped it; he and I did the inscription.

DL: That’s beautiful; we’ve seen it.

RO: Dad asked us to do that for the Dakota people. It’s a piece of stone, so it’s a sacred piece of stone. And that’s one of the places where people will get a different understanding of history.

DL: Right there on that spot.

DL: Overlooking the camp.

RO: Yes. [Governor] Rudy Perpich signed the declaration and proclamation and said, so be it.

DL: What’s your understanding of that war? What started it, or what different things started it?

RO: It was a misunderstanding. I mean, most of the racism that existed at the time was [due to] intolerance. Most of the people who came to this country were searching for that freedom, liberty, equality, justice, but there were also people like the carpetbaggers that exploited the South afterward – profiteers. They don’t care about humanity. They’re zombies, they’re the walking dead. Their profit margin – same as today – Wall Street and the oil prices, they’re jacking it up, speculation, and then they tell us we can’t have a casino. Hey, you guys got Wall Street, man. Bernie Madoff [made off] with your money and the 20% return on your money. Did you not think he was going to take your money? That’s what we tell people; it’s entertainment, take your chances. But we’re the bad guys? Are you going to have a state-run casino? That’s the worst thing you could possibly do in a civilization. The state of Minnesota didn’t help us out economically, they didn’t recognize our treaty and our agreements as living in balance and equality, and they distorted [the truth] – the profiteers want to gouge, it’s just greed; flat out greed.

Oral History- Interview | Narrator Raymond Owen Interviewer Deborah Locke made in Welch, Prairie Island Community, MN | Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. They had a bent sense of purpose May 21, 2024.

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