Siouxland: the Dakota Conflict


Siouxland:  The Dakota Conflict is a thrilling story of broken promises and rebellion, heroism and hostages. A highlight of this program is the Fort Sisseton Festival.  Recognized as one of the nation’s best preserved frontier forts with 15 original buildings intact, Fort Sisseton today plays host to an annual festival where the infantry still marches, the cavalry still rides and Native Americans dance to the ancient rhythms of their ancestors. Re-enactors portray the lifestyles of early Dakotans through infantry drills, a military ball, muzzle-loading contests and tomahawk throws. Stroll through the mountain-man encampment and participate in living history demonstrations that bring to life the frontier in 19th century America.

The uprising of 1862 known as the Dakota Conflict triggered the Great Plains Indian Wars of the next three decades. Discover the causes for the uprising, the injustices visited on the Natives of the area, and the amazing stories of the courageous survivors. Historians from both sides lend insight to the tragedy, and re-enactors place you right into the action.

Begins and ends in Minneapolis

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Tour highlights:

  • Fort Snelling
  • Fort Ridgely
  • Lower Sioux Agency
  • Sod Houses on the Prairie
  • Fort Sisseton Historical Festival
  • rendezvous encampment
  • Pipestone National Monument
  • Historic New Ulm
  • Traverse des Sioux History Center
  • Historic Murphy’s Landing
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Tour Itinerary:

Day 1 – Arrivals

Passengers arrive at St. Paul International Airport before 2:00 pm to begin our excursion back in time. Airport transfers are provided. Our afternoon tour of historic Fort Snelling, headquarters for the tragic conflict we will be studying, will be followed by a Mississippi River dinner cruise. Overnight in Burnsville, just outside the Twin Cities. (D)

Day 2 – Fort Ridgely / Lower Sioux Agency

Our quest to discover the origins of the Great Plains wars of the last century begins at Fort Ridgely where two major battles of the conflict occurred. Here we’ll gather background and set the scene for the unfolding story. Then we’ll visit the Lower Sioux Agency, site of the first organized Indian attack of the War of 1862. Here Native American interpreters will offer their perspective. Also on today’s agenda we’ll step back in time at the Harkins Store, maintained as it was at it’s prime in 1870. Costumed guides maintain vintage goods on the shelves and a fire in the pot-bellied stove on cool mornings. We’ll end our day in Redwood Falls, home of the beautiful Alexander Ramsey State Park. (B)

Day 3 – Sod House / Nicolette Tower

Today’s journey begins with an instructive look at what so many prairie pioneers endured as residents of sod houses.  Moving on to South Dakota we’ll concentrate on the Sioux culture of yesterday and today. At the Nicollette tower we’ll see the original maps created by one of the area’s first European explorers and see the surrounding Coteau des Prairies from atop the 75 foot tower. The next two nights will be spent in Watertown, SD. (B)


Day 4 – Fort Sisseton Historical Festival

Today we’ll truly step back in time to the nineteenth century American frontier at the Fort Sisseton Historical Festival. Built in 1864 in response to the nearby Sioux uprising, the fort is today recognized as one of the nation’s best preserved frontier forts, with 15 original buildings intact. We’ll see infantry drills, muzzle-loading contests and tomahawk throws, Native American dancing and stroll through a mountain man encampment where re-enactors sell their home-made goods and authentic period foods. Overnight again in Watertown.   (B)

Day 5 – Pipestone National Monument

Just over the South Dakota/Minnesota border is the centuries old red stone quarry where the many Sioux bands have obtained material for carving the many objects of everyday and ceremonial life. We’ll learn the story and observe Natives working the stone as they have for hundreds of years. This evening we will be treated to a traditional feast and interpretive Native American program.Overnight:  Pipestone, MN   (D)

Day 6 – Historic New Ulm

The little German settlement of New Ulm endured two Indian assaults during the Dakota Conflict. Learn the story of its brave defenders, sample the atmosphere (and locally brewed beer) of the German descendants and take time to shop in the charming ethnic shops of this unique village. Overnight: New Ulm. (B)

Day 7 – Traverse des Sioux History Center

Our final stop on the trail of the Dakota Conflict is the Traverse des Sioux History Center, built at the site of the historic river crossing where the fateful treaty that started it all was signed. We’ll tie all the loose ends together at this historic river crossing and later celebrate new friends and a deeper understanding of our heritage at the living history village of Murphy’s Landing.  The nineteenth century setting is inhabited by costumed interpreters, entertainers and music for a festive farewell Mississippi dinner cruise. Overnight:  Burnsville, MN (B, D)

Day 8 – Departures

Airport transfers included. (B)

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Happy Trails!