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Dakota "Peace Party"

When the war broke out the majority of Minnesota’s Dakota population refused to participate. Many gathered together and formed a separate camp on the Upper Sioux (Yellow Medicine) Reservation. The leaders of this "Peace Party" attempted to stop the war and secure the release of prisoners captured during the fighting. When the war ended the Peace Party awaited the arrival of U.S. military forces at “Camp Release” where the prisoners were turned over. Eventually, over 1,600 of the Dakota non-combatants (mostly women, children, and the elderly) were removed to Fort Snelling where they spent the winter of 1862-1863 in a stockade below the fort. Between 102-300 people died within the camp that winter. In the spring of 1863 the majority of the survivors were removed to the Crow Creek Reservation in the Dakota Territory.

Explore this collection of primary sources related to the experiences of some members of the "Peace Party," and think about what we can learn from them. Ask the following questions of each source:

  • What kind of source is it? (i.e. interview, diary, newspaper, image, etc.)
  • Who created this source?
  • Who is its intended audience?
  • When was this source created?
  • What influences do you think acted on the creation of this source?


concept links

Memories of War U.S. Military Non-Combatants Dakota "Peace Party" Dakota Soldiers