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Minnesota Historical Society Press


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The Crops Look Good

News from a Midwestern Family Farm

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When Margaret Williamson left her family’s rural Wisconsin farm to work in Minneapolis in 1923, her mother, Olava, wrote regularly with updates about daily activities: laundry, bread baking, plowing, planting, and harvesting the crops. Sometimes she enclosed a note from seven- year- old Helen, who reported on school and shenanigans and how she longed to see Margaret again. So begins decades of stories about a family at once singular— with personal joys and challenges— and broadly representative of the countless small farms that dotted the midwestern landscape in the early twentieth century. As Margaret’s niece Sara DeLuca weaves together family tales gleaned from letters and conversations, we learn of births and deaths, of innovations like the automobile, radio, and telephone that drew rural communities together, and of national and international events that brought home stone- hard truths. Depression- era farmers struggled to keep their land and feed their livestock; many failed. During wartime, this family made do just like everyone else. The tale that emerges is one of fierce devotion to family and work, of a changing landscape as smaller farms became part of conglomerates, and of the comforting daily rhythms of life shared with those who know us best.

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Curiosity's Cats

Writers on Research

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Dakota Life In the Upper Midwest

Samuel W. Pond

In 1834 Samuel W. Pond and his brother Gideon built a cabin near Cloud Man's village of the Dakota Indians on the shore of Lake Calhoun--now present-day Minneapolis--intending to preach Christianity to the Indians. The brothers were to spend nearly twenty years learning the Dakota language and observing how the Indians lived. In the 1860s and 1870s, after the Dakota had fought a disastrous war with the whites who had taken their land, Samuel Pond recorded his recollections of the Indians "to show what manner of people the Dakotas were . . . while they still retained the customs of their ancestors." Pond's work, first published in 1908, is now considered a classic. Gary Clayton Anderson's introduction discusses Pond's career and the effects of his background on this work, "unrivaled today for its discussion of Dakota material culture and social, political, religious, and economic institutions."

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Dakota Philosopher

Charles Eastman and American Indian Thought

David Martinez

Charles Eastman straddled two worlds in his life and writing. The author of Indian Boyhood was raised in the traditional way after the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War. His father later persuaded him to study Christianity and attend medical school. But when Eastman served as a government doctor during the Wounded Knee massacre, he became disillusioned about Americans' capacity to live up to their own ideals. While Eastman's contemporaries viewed him as "a great American and a true philosopher," Indian scholars have long dismissed Eastman's work as assimilationist. Now, for the first time, his philosophy as manifested in his writing is examined in detail. David Martinez explores Eastman's views on the U.S.-Dakota War, Dakota and Ojibwe relations, Dakota sacred history, and citizenship in the Progressive Era, claiming for him a long overdue place in America's intellectual pantheon.

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Dakota Women's Work

Creativity, Culture, and Exile

By Colette Hyman

A tiny pair of beaded deerskin moccasins, given to a baby in 1913, provides the starting point for this thoughtful examination of the work of Dakota women. Mary Eastman Faribault, born in Minnesota, made them almost four decades after the U.S.–Dakota War of 1862. This and other ornately decorated objects created by Dakota women—cradleboards, clothing, animal skin containers—served more than a utilitarian function. They tell the story of colonization, genocide, and survival. Author Colette Hyman traces the changes in the lives of Dakota women, starting before the arrival of whites and covering the fur trade, the years of treaties and shrinking lands, the brutal time of removal, starvation, and shattered families after 1862—and then the transition to reservation life, when missionaries and government agents worked to turn the Dakota into Christian farmers. The decorative work of Dakota women reflected all of this: native organic dyes and quillwork gave way to beading and needlework, items traditionally decorated for family gifts were produced to sell to tourists and white collectors, work on cradleboards and animal skin bags shifted to the ornamenting of hymnals and the creation of star quilts. Through it all, the work of Dakota women proclaims and retains Dakota identity: it is a testament to the endurance of Dakota traditions, to the survival of the Dakota in exile, and—most vividly—to the role of women in that survival.

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Daughter Of The Middle Border

Hamlin Garland

This sequel to Garland’s acclaimed autobiography, A Son of the Middle Border, continues his story as he sets out for Chicago and settles into a Bohemian encampment of artists and writers. There he meets Zulime Taft, an artist who captures his heart and eventually becomes his wife. The intensity of this romance is rivaled only by Garland’s struggle between America’s coastal elite and his heartland roots. A Daughter of the Middle Border won the Pulitzer Prize in 1922, forever securing his place in the literary canon.

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Early Candlelight

Maud Hart Lovelace

This historical novel set at Old Fort Snelling in the 1830s is a rich and romantic re-creation of the early settlement period in Minnesota's history. Maud Hart Lovelace's careful research into the documents of the Historical Society, combined with her knowledge of the actual setting, enabled her to write a story that conveys a sense of time and place both accurate and compelling for young adults as well as general readers.

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Emigrants

Vilhelm Moberg

Considered one of Sweden's greatest 20th-century writers, Vilhelm Moberg created Karl Oskar and Kristina Nilsson to portray the joys and tragedies of daily life for early Swedish pioneers in America. His consistently faithful depiction of these humble people's lives is a major strength of the Emigrant Novels. Moberg's extensive research in the papers of Swedish emigrants in archival collections, including the Minnesota Historical Society, enabled him to incorporate many details of pioneer life. First published between 1949 and 1959 in Swedish, these four books were considered a single work by Moberg, who intended that they be read as documentary novels. These new editions contain introductions written by Roger McKnight, Gustavus Adolphus College, and restore Moberg's bibliography not included in earlier English editions. Book 1 introduces Karl Oskar and Kristina Nilsson, their three young children, and eleven others who make up a resolute party of Swedes fleeing the poverty, religious persecution, and social oppression of Småland in 1850. "It's important to have Moberg's Emigrant Novels available for another generation of readers.”—Bruce Karstadt, American Swedish Institute

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Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask

By Anton Treuer

“I had a profoundly well-educated Princetonian ask me, ‘Where is your tomahawk?’ I had a beautiful woman approach me in the college gymnasium and exclaim, ‘You have the most beautiful red skin.’ I took a friend to see Dances with Wolves and was told, ‘Your people have a beautiful culture.’ . . . I made many lifelong friends at college, and they supported but also challenged me with questions like, ‘Why should Indians have reservations?’ ” What have you always wanted to know about Indians? Do you think you should already know the answers—or suspect that your questions may be offensive? In matterof-fact responses to over 120 questions, both thoughtful and outrageous, modern and historical, Ojibwe scholar and cultural preservationist Anton Treuer gives a frank, funny, and sometimes personal tour of what’s up with Indians, anyway. • What is the real story of Thanksgiving? • Why are tribal languages important? • What do you think of that incident where people died in a sweat lodge? White/Indian relations are often characterized by guilt and anger. Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians But Were Afraid to Ask cuts through the emotion and builds a foundation for true understanding and positive action.

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Finding Common Ground

The Art of Legislating in an Age of Gridlock

by Dave Bishop

Democracy has never been a quick or easy process by which to get things done. But many citizens are fed up with the current, extreme partisan gridlock at the national, state, and even local levels of government. Dave Bishop spent most of his twenty years in the Minnesota House of Representatives as a member of the Republican minority, but that did not stop him from winning passage of [“pushing through” sounds confrontational, the opposite of his approach] legislation that benefited his district. In Finding Common Ground, he shares proven techniques and insightful examples of how minority members can gain the power to produce better laws and a healthier democracy. Bishop reveals the inside stories of major Minnesota legislation through the 1980s and 1990s—the lottery, groundwater protection, the Living Will, the Northwest Airlines bailout, and much more—showing how real work can be done through respectful, healthy confrontation and compromise. This concise handbook is a gift not just for policymakers but also for their constituents who are interested in effective and ethical legislating. Finding Common Ground provides a deeper understanding of the legislative process as well as greater respect for the complex work of legislators and legislatures.

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