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Group Description

The Lower Sioux Agency is at the site of the first organized Indian attack in the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War. An exhibit explores the Dakota story before, during and after the war. Self-guided trails interpret the grounds.

Well-marked trails will help you explore the grounds and restored 1861 stone warehouse at the Lower Sioux Agency. Established by the U.S. government in 1853 as an administrative center, the Agency became the scene of the first organized attack in the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War.

The U.S. government created the Agency after treaties in 1851 reduced the Eastern Dakota's (Eastern Sioux) home to just 4 percent of their traditional lands across southern and western Minnesota. Over the next nine years, some Dakota families adapted to the new agricultural way of life promoted by the government on the small reservation along the Minnesota River, but many more did not. By the summer of 1862, unkept promises by the government, nefarious practices by nearby fur traders, and a crop failure in 1861 added to the growing tension at the Agency. On the morning of Aug.18, the Dakota attacked the fur traders' stores and then the Lower Sioux Agency, destroying buildings and taking food for their families. In the next six weeks 500 or more people on both sides were killed. The war was devastating for all involved.

During your visit, explore Dakota life before the reservation era and discover how the reservation system changed traditional Dakota ways of living. Learn about the Agency's operation and discover how government employees and missionaries sought to change traditional Dakota ways. Look for underlying causes of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 in the interpretive center exhibit. See the difference between traditional Dakota farming practices and those taught by Agency employees in the site's period gardens and farm plots.

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