Behind the Victory Flagpole — The native people say goodbye

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A long time ago there were many tribes of indigenous peoples living around Minneapolis – some at Lake Harriet, some around Lake Calhoun and some spread out around St. Anthony Falls. John H. Stevens, in his book Minnesota and its People published in 1890, tells the story of how most left this area.

“The Indian Chieftain, Man of the Clouds, with several of his tribe came down from Oak Grove on Christmas, seeking presents and alms from R.P. Russell and other acquaintances at the Falls. He said he could not expect to meet his white friends in this neighborhood in the future as his band would soon move for the winter into the hunting grounds of the big woods, and when spring came he would follow the Dakotas to their reservation on the upper Mississippi River. He was desirous of accepting such farewell gifts with the compliments of the season as his friends, Mr. Russell and others should see proper to give him, which he could cherish as tokens of friendship in his new home. As the wily chieftain mostly solicited perishable gifts (in their hands) such as bread, meat, sugar, coffee and the like, it was evident that the immediate wants of the stomach were the tokens by which his former friends were to be remembered.

We made the old Man of the Clouds and his wives and children happy. If I could remember correctly the old man was right in saying that he was visiting the Falls for the last time. Not so, however, with Good Road, chief of the other band of the lake Dakotas. He remembered us with visits after the removal to the Redwood country; but the close of the year 1851 in a measure ended the protracted visits of the Dakotas to the Falls. It was true they would occasionally swarm down on us by hundreds, but in after years their sojourn was of short duration.

Both Man of the Clouds and Good Road were born on the banks of Lake Calhoun. They had great faith in the healing virtues of the water of a spring at Owen Keegan’s cabin, which they would come all the way from Redwood and Yellow Medicine to bathe in and drink of. Then again they would leave the Agency in the fall for the purpose of gathering the cranberries that grew on the marshes in the neighborhood of Minneapolis. These they would sell to the traders; though as a matter of history it is well known they would, on any occasion possible, visit their old haunts on the bank of the Mississippi on the east, and to the Iowa line on the south. This was not confined to the Medewakantonwans, but to the Wahpekutas, Wahpetonwans, and others.

Before the outbreak in 1862, they were often the source of much annoyance to the white settlers on the meadowlands, from their wandering habits, but the end of the Indian war of 1862 mostly ended their visitations to their former hunting grounds, the sites of their old villages, and the graves of their fathers.”