We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Mni Sota Makoce

The Land of the Dakota

by Gwen Westerman and Bruce White, with a foreword by Glenn Wasicuna

Publication Year: 2012

Much of the focus on the Dakota people in Minnesota rests on the tragic events of the 1862 U.S.–Dakota War and the resulting exile that sent the majority of the Dakota to prisons and reservations beyond the state’s boundaries. But the true depth of the devastation of removal cannot be understood without a closer examination of the history of the Dakota people and their deep cultural connection to the land that is Minnesota. Drawing on oral history interviews, archival work, and painstaking comparisons of Dakota, French, and English sources, Mni Sota Makoce tells the detailed history of the Dakota people in their traditional homelands for at least hundreds of years prior to exile. “Minnesota” is derived from the Dakota phrase Mni Sota Makoce, Land Where the Waters Reflect the Clouds—and the people’s roots here remain strong. Authors Gwen Westerman and Bruce White examine narratives of the people’s origins, their associations with the land, and the seasonal round through key players and place names. They consider Dakota interactions with Europeans and offer an in-depth “reading between the lines” of historical documents—some of them virtually unknown—and treaties made with the United States, uncovering misunderstandings and outright deceptions that helped lead to war in 1862. Dakota history did not begin with the U.S.– Dakota War of 1862—nor did it end there. Mni Sota Makoce is, more than anything, a celebration of the Dakota people through their undisputed connection to this place, Minnesota, in the past, present, and future.

Published by: Minnesota Historical Society Press

Front Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF

Table of Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF
p. v

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. vii-viii

The response to this question could not be a simplistic one. The answers are many and varied. But the most important and certainly the best answer we have as Dakota people is “Thank you.” Thank you for asking that one question that will open up decades, generations of stories, information, answers, and ideas that we have to share with the world....

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 3-10

Minnesota is a Dakota place. The Dakota people named it and left their marks in the landscape and in its history. Yet the relationship of the Dakota people to their traditional lands in Minnesota is little understood by Minnesotans today. Many history books describe the Dakota as...

Pronunciation Guide

pdf iconDownload PDF
p. 11

read more

1. Homelands

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 13-30

Mni Sota Makoce. The land where the waters are so clear they reflect the clouds. This land is where our grandmothers’ grandmothers’ grandmothers played as children. Carried in our collective memories are stories of this place that reach beyond...

read more

2. Reading Between the Lines of the Historical Record

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 31-80

Minnesota is rich with Dakota places. Dakota history is encoded in the land and landscape of the state and the surrounding region. The challenge is to find that history wherever and however it is recorded—and to understand it. Historians...

read more

3. Dakota Landscape in the Nineteenth Century

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 81-132

The Dakota knew Mni Sota Makoce as a network of connected places, each defined in specific ways. They followed a seasonal way of life, hunting game in the woods in winter, pursuing buffalo on the plains in summer, gathering edible plants in the woods and wetlands, fishing in the rivers and lakes, ricing and growing gardens on...

read more

4. Drawing Lines on Sacred Land: The Dakota Treaties

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 133-196

Mni Sota Makoce is a rich and diverse land that gave birth to the Dakota people eons ago. As the mother and grandmother of the Dakota people, it has sustained them for countless generations. For the Dakota the land was animate, a relative, a mother. When Dakota people greet each other they often say, as...

read more

5. Reclaiming Minnesota—Mni Sota Makoce

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 197-223

The treaties of 1851 marked the beginning of the Dakota’s exile from their homelands in Minnesota. The Dakota people were not given a permanent home in which to live, and efforts to confine them to the region of the Upper Minnesota River began before...

Contributor Statements and Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 225-234


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 235-251


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 253-262


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 263-272

Image Credits

pdf iconDownload PDF
p. 273


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 281-296

E-ISBN-13: 9780873518833
E-ISBN-10: 0873518837
Print-ISBN-13: 9780873518697
Print-ISBN-10: 0873518691

Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 50 b&w illustrations, 15 color images, 2 maps, notes, index, tables, bibliography
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 830023242
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Mni Sota Makoce

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Dakota Indians -- Minnesota -- History.
  • Dakota Indians -- Minnesota -- Social life and customs.
  • Minnesota -- History.
  • Minnesota -- Social life and customs.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access