One Minneapolis-One Read Selection Offers Stories of the Impact of U.S.-Dakota War of 1862

Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures – Ralph Waldo Emerson

In this 150th commemoration of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 Minnesotans struggle to unravel the facts and, even more, to internalize the reality of a War so near at hand, so close in time, and so unknown to 21st Century Minnesotans.

The Minnesota Historical Society has launched a massive multi-faceted program to uncover, interpret and share the facts and forces that led to, infused and flowed from the War. Through the exhibit at the History Center, public discussions, a guide to historic sites and more, MHS has focused Minnesotans’ attention on a piece of Minnesota history long overlooked – because it is just too difficult to face.

Minneapolitans who dip into fiction for a better understanding of the 1862 tragedy are already deep into Diane Wilson’s Spirit Car: Journey to a Dakota Past, the book chosen by the Minneapolis City Council as this year’s One Minneapolis One Read Minneapolis choice. The book explores Wilson’s Dakota Indian ancestry over generations. The story begins with the U.S-Dakota war, then follows Wilson’s family members through five generations life in South Dakota and Nebraska.

The One Minneapolis One Read initiative launches early this fall. A host of organizations and institutions are involved, all focused on encouraging local community explorations of the themes posited in the “one read.”

Spirit Car, published by the Minnesota Historical Society, is widely available in area libraries and bookstores and at MHS Press. The book can be downloaded from the Hennepin County Library and is also available in e-book format from commercial vendors.

Readers will find additional information about the book and resources about the Dakota War through the Minnesota Historical Society Press and at the MHS website. There is also a discussion guide prepared by the Minnesota Book Awards/The Friends of the Saint Pubic Public Library.

Librarians at Hennepin County Library have created a great website for readers who want to explore other writers’ perspectives on the War and its implications. The website lists a generous reading list of fiction and nonfiction titles related to the Native American experience in Minnesota along with comments from other readers. All of the titles listed are available for reserve and check-out from the library.

This is the second year of the One Minneapolis One Read program. Hundreds of Minneapolitans took part in community discussions of last year’s book, the Grace of Silence, written by NPR host and Minneapolis native Michele Norris. Rebroadcasts of One Read Week events are available on Comcast on Demand. Follow One Minneapolis One Read developments on the website, on Facebook or on Twitter. Email oneread@minneapolismn.gov.

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