Wood Lake Battlefield to be dedicated
WOOD LAKE BATTLEFIELD -- Since 1910, a one-acre site with a monument has been all that marked the final battle of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, and it is in the wrong location.
The fenced site is located where Col. Henry Sibley camped, but not where the Battle of Wood Lake took place on Sept. 23, 1862.
State officials will join the Wood Lake Battlefield Preservation Association at the actual battlefield site at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 22 to dedicate it and remember those who had fought and gave their lives here.
Due to the efforts of the preservation association, the site is formally protected through a perpetual easement as a Civil War era-battlefield and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
It will serve forever as the site to remember those from both sides who fought and gave their lives here, and to tell the story of what occurred, according to Tom Hosier of Rochester, founder of the Wood Lake Battlefield Preservation Association.
"It's so, so long overdue, no question about it,'' said Hosier.
The preservation association has worked with Muriel and John Coulter, owners of the property, to make possible the battlefield site. An easement agreement protects for perpetuity the 240-acre farm site that Muriel Coulter's grandparents, Halvor and Turi Odden, acquired in 1890 and the family has owned since.
The agreement sets aside a 54-acre pasture area of the farm that is the battlefield site. The intent is to maintain the area as prairie to approximate its appearance 150 years ago. The preservation association also intends to develop a self-guided trail and signage to tell the story of the battle.
Muriel Coulter said the agreement essentially assures that the farmland surrounding the battlefield will remain as farm, and will not someday hold large buildings or residences.
She grew up on the farm hearing the stories about the battle. Her parents, Alford and Luella Odden, saw many visitors look for artifacts from the battle on this land.
Boulders being placed at the site will remember her parents and grandparents. A boulder will also remember a former neighbor, Mike Ose, who was wellversed in the history of the site and appreciated the importance of preserving it. Ose, 58, was killed in a car crash in 2009.
Chief Little Crow and an estimated 700 Dakota warriors were planning to ambush Sibley and his 1,619 troops after they broke camp and strung themselves out in a long column. The ambush was thwarted when a group of soldiers ignored orders and left camp to raid nearby gardens and drew fire.
The dedication ceremony will follow the 2012 Wood Lake Battlefield Preservation Association Symposium, which will begin at 10 a.m. Sept. 22 at the Kilowatt Community Center in Granite Falls.
Elden Lawrence, historian and author and member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, will tell the story of Lorenzo Lawrence, who saved 10 people during the 1862 war.
Laurie Ottman will tell the story of one he saved: Madeline DuMarze, her great-great- grandmother.
The public is welcome to join at the battlefield site for the dedication ceremony. Hosier said the hope is that the dedication will help bring some reconciliation of what had happened here, what we can learn and how we can move on together.
Registration for the symposium is open through Monday at the preservation association's website: www.woodlakebattlefield. com.