The Dakota Sioux
Little Crow was a Dakota Sioux leader who reluctantly agreed to the war against the settlers.
The early settlers were wary of the Dakota Sioux who occupied this area. The Sioux frequently moved their camps around the region, depending on the season and the availability of wild game, water and food, including wild rice and maple sugar. Winter encampments were frequently located near a spring or creek.
In the winter of 1856-57, about 300 natives built an encampment at Pioneer Creek, and the following winter about 600 arrived. There were incidents of theft but no violence.
In 1858, a band of roaming Chippewa frightened the settlers when they passed through Long Lake, carrying scalps and trophies from their victory over the Dakota Sioux near Shakopee.
As more settlers arrived, claiming more and more land, the Dakota were forced into treaties ceding land in exchange for goods, services and money. Their way of life, which had depended on freely roaming the region, was disrupted. Federal government annuity payments promised in the treaties were often late or nonexistent. The Dakota were left hungry and without resources. Conflict with the white settlers became inevitable.
In 1862, war broke out between the Dakota and the white settlers. Most of the fighting took place in Renville County, along the Minnesota River Valley and near New Ulm. Although no major battles occurred in the Lake Independence area, settlers felt threatened and prepared to defend themselves. For protection, the settlers built stockades in Long Lake, Watertown and other communities. A group of Medina settlers sought shelter on the island in Holy Name Lake before decamping to Fort Snelling.
The Dakota won many of the early battles, but eventually were defeated after the United States Army began defending the settlers. The notorious mass hanging of 38 Dakota occurred in December, 1862. In 1863 the remaining Dakota were expelled from Minnesota, their reservations were taken away, and they were forced to re-locate in South Dakota and Nebraska.