We still have people that allow others to tell them what to think.

Mayor Beussman reflects on the importance of educating people about the U.S.-Dakota War.

Audio Chapters

DL: Do you think it is a good idea to commemorate the events of the 1800’s?

RB: It’s a good thing that we let everyone know what happened. It’s not a figment of somebody’s imagination; it’s not a Hollywood fictional story. Some people, watched “The Fourth of July” and actually believe that the aliens are coming and we’re going to have to shoot them down. Some have watched screens in movie theaters and believe that the earth is going to split. Recently there was something on TV about the end of the world and it wasn’t maybe a year or so later and the gentleman was telling us the exact date when the world was going to end. Well, he now said he misfigured and it’s going to be October 21st instead of May 21st. The media can plant a lot of things in our minds. We still have people that allow others to tell them what to think.

DL: What’s the solution?

RB: Education.

DL: “The War of the Worlds,” is another good example of a story that was on the radio that gullible and nervous people heard and reacted to, wildly. I wouldn’t be surprised if the stories about the Dakota, of course, took on a life of their own after the war.

RB: Oh, I’m sure they did. And I’m sure the oral history that the Dakota passed on down the line probably had a life of their own too; I don’t know any of those. I don’t know what the Dakota children were told, and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. My knowledge of the war is basically coming out now, because like I said, maybe I had a sheltered life, maybe because we moved to Springfield, maybe because something happened in my great-great grandfather’s family so he wasn’t “part of the family.” Some research says he and one of his brothers lived together when they came back from Milwaukee. The two families lived together in Nicollet County on the other brothers’ farm before my great-grandfather went back to Milford and tried to re-start the farm. So are their paintings? Yes. There’s a lot of paintings that I see that do not depict the Natives as being warriors; I see them depicted as living on the edge of New Ulm, sharing, sharing the river, sharing the bounty of the area with the settlers that were here. That’s the picture that I see in my mind. Now, maybe I’m just a very naïve person.

Oral History- Interview | Narrator Robert Beussman Interviewer Deborah Locke made in New Ulm, MN | Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. We still have people that allow others to tell them what to think. June 23, 2024. http://www.usdakotawar.org/node/1002

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