Minnesota Historical Society

Fort Snelling at Bdote

$ 14.95


A Brief History, Newly Annotated

Author Peter DeCarlo

Minnesota Historical Society Press (June 22, 2020)

A primer on the complex and contested history of Minnesota’s premier historical site, newly annotated.


For millennia, the place where the Minnesota River joins the Mississippi has been a crossroads, a place of strategic power. But that symbolism is complicated. The fort is a powerful reminder that most Minnesotans today are descendants of immigrants, living on conquered land. Many Dakota people consider the area to be their sacred place of origin as well as a site of genocide. And, shockingly, some army officers at the fort held African Americans in slavery. 

The site, a museum preserved and run by the Minnesota Historical Society, is undergoing a sweeping transformation to include not just the fort’s military history but the stories of all Minnesotans. And this primer similarly provides an overview of the site’s role in the foundation of the state, and its meaning for Minnesota’s diverse people.

Author information

Peter J. DeCarlo is a historian and author of Fort Snelling at Bdote and “Loyalty Within Racism: The Segregated Sixteenth Battalion of the Minnesota Home Guard During World War I”. He holds an MA in American history with an emphasis in colonialism, borderlands, Native American studies, and the American West. He works at the Minnesota Historical Society as a research historian on the Historic Fort Snelling at Bdote Project.

Selected bibliography


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Denial, Catherine J. Making Marriage: Husbands, Wives and the American State in Dakota and Ojibwe Country. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2013. https://shop.mnhs.org/products/making-marriage.

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Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne. An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2014. http://www.beacon.org/An-Indigenous-Peoples-History-of-the-United-States-P1164.aspx.

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Gilman, Carolyn. Where Two Worlds Meet: The Great Lakes Fur Trade. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1982. https://shop.mnhs.org/products/where-two-worlds-meet.

Gilman, Rhoda R. Henry Hastings Sibley: Divided Heart. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2004. https://shop.mnhs.org/products/henry-hastings-sibley-divided-heart.

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Hagerty, Silas. Dakota 38. Porter, ME: Smooth Feather Productions, 2012. http://www.smoothfeather.com/dakota38.

Hall, Steve. Fort Snelling: Colossus of the Wilderness. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1987.

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Haymond, John A. The Infamous Dakota War Trials of 1862: Revenge, Military Law and the Judgment of History. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, Inc., 2016. http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com/book-2.php?id=978-1-4766-6510-8.

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——— . “Tioŝpaye: Kinship.” The US–Dakota War of 1862. http://www.usdakotawar.org/history/dakota-homeland-oceti-%C5%A1akowi%C5%8B/tio%C5%9Dpaye-kinship.

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Related links

History Lounge with Peter DeCarlo 
The Twin Cities African American community during World War I
Tuesday, October 10, 2017 at 7 pm

"Loyalty Within Racism: The Segregated Sixteenth Battallion of the Minnesota Home Guard During World War I", Minnesota History article by Peter J. DeCarlo.

Historic Fort Snelling 2020

MNHS Receives Federal Grant to Update Fort Snelling Historic District Designation

Nation's Leading Historic Preservation Organization Names "Bdote Fort Snelling" a National Treasure

  • 96 pages
  • 60 Color and B&W Illustrations
  • 8.5x11 inches
  • ISBN: 9781681341712

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