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Published August 17, 2012, 08:15 PM

Saturday marks the 150th anniversary of US-Dakota War

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- One Historian calls it the most important six-weeks in Minnesota History. The U.S.-Dakota war defined Minnesota and even the Red River Valley for decades to come. Its 150th Anniversary is tomorrow.

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- One Historian calls it the most important six-weeks in Minnesota History. The U.S.-Dakota war defined Minnesota and even the Red River Valley for decades to come. Its 150th Anniversary is tomorrow.

Markus Krueger/Historical and Cultural Society of Clay Co.: "The Red River Valley in 1862 was the edge of the United States, the northwestern edge of the United States."

After selling their land to the U.S. Government in the 1850s, the Dakota tribe in Minnesota was mistreated and cheated out of much of its money by Indian Agents and traders.

Krueger: "Known by outsiders as the Sioux, they were quite literally starving to death."

On August 18th, 1862, enough was enough. Several hundred Dakota warriors rose up; exacting revenge and hoping to win back their land. Most of the war was fought 200-miles to the southeast, but not all of it. Some warriors were stopped by dozens of soldiers at Fort Abercrombie, 40-miles to the south. And the conflict forced the only settlement in the area, the trading hub of Georgetown, to flee.

Krueger: "They couldn't go east because that's where the war was, so they had to go North, try to make it to Fort Garry, modern day Winnipeg."

Fur traders coming from Canada would stop in Georgetown, taking thousands of pounds of furs on wooden ox-carts just like this one to St. Cloud and onto Europe.

Krueger: "Where Grand Forks is today, about half the group turned back, including Randolph Probstfield so they came back to Georgetown. Those heroes Kittson, Bottineau, Rolette, those heroes of the northwestern frontier got captured by the Objibwe band to negotiate a treaty with the United States at Grand Forks."

By September of 1862 the war was over; the Dakota tribe defeated and forced to cross the Red River, expelled from their Minnesota home. An estimated 450-800 white and mixed settlers were killed - mostly during the first few days of battle. But all the Georgetown settlers returned home safely.

Krueger: "Maybe that's one of the reason why this story isn't well known at all, because nobody dies."

Krueger says when the Dakota War ended in 1862 it discouraged nearly anybody from moving to the Red River Valley. That is, until the railroad came to town and built this very same bridge that we see here today, crossing the Red River in 1871. The rest is history.

There will be a 150th anniversary commemoration of the Siege at Fort Abercrombie on September 1st. All events will take place at the Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site.

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