Students explain why the 1805 Dakota Treaty was beneficial to settlers and the military. Students also determine whether or not the treaty was fair to the Sioux nation.
This lesson is part of "Great States: Minnesota | Unit 4: Treaties and Statehood" which focuses on how the enormous economic, political, and technological changes of the 19th century impacted the creation of the state of Minnesota.
188.8.131.52.2: Analyze how and why the United States and the Dakota and Anishinaabe negotiated treaties; describe the consequences of treaties on the Anishinaabe, Dakota and settlers in the upper Mississippi River region.
- Class set of Treaty with the Sioux, 1805 handout
- An interactive whiteboard, projector, or another type of screen to show images to the class
- Map: Contemporary Minnesota
- Map: Mississippi and St. Peters Rivers
- Explain to students that in 1805, Zebulon Pike went on an expedition up the Mississippi River where he met with Dakota Sioux leaders at the confluence of the Mississippi and St. Peters (now called Minnesota) Rivers. A confluence is a joining point, or junction, of two rivers. Pike recorded that a couple of the leaders agreed to sell a small section of land so that the United States could build a fort. In September of 1905, the Dakota Treaty, also known as Pike’s Purchase, was signed.
- Distribute the Treaty with the Sioux, 1805 handout and have students read Articles 1 and 2 of the 1805 Dakota Treaty.
- Ask students why it was beneficial for the military to have posts at the river. [artillery, supplies, and soldiers could be easily transported by boat.]
- Show a general map of Minnesota and point out the Mississippi and St. Peters (now called Minnesota) rivers as well as the confluence.
- Show a historical map of Minnesota and point out the Mississippi and St. Peters rivers as well as the confluence.
- Ask students if they can list some of the benefits of owning land below the confluence of the Mississippi and St. Peters (Minnesota) rivers. Explain that by owning land below the confluence of the Mississippi and St. Peters rivers, materials and passengers could be transported from one river to the other, accessing a larger portion and different areas of the land and promoting trade.
- Ask students: What was the agreed-upon exchange in the treaty? Explain to students that the United States government left barrels of whiskey and gifts for the Sioux nation that were valued much lower than the agreed-upon exchange. The gifts were valued at about $200, a tenth of the agreed amount.
- Ask students: What did the treaty meant for the Sioux nation? What did they lose besides the land itself?
- The agreed exchange was $2,000 or equal value in goods or merchandise. Gifts with much less value were given to the Sioux instead. Maybe the United States government thought the Sioux wouldn’t know the true value of items given, and were trying to save the US money by cheating the Sioux out of the agreed-upon exchange.
- The treaty meant the Sioux Nation had to move off their land. They also no longer had the right to hunt there, so they lost a source of food and clothing.