History of the Dakota Indians in the region now known as Anoka
The name of Anoka County was taken from the town of Anoka, which was named in 1853.
It is a Dakota word meaning "on both sides; applied
by founders to the city laid out on both sides of the "Rum" River.
In a 1873 newspaper article by L.M. Ford, Goodrich is quoted: "The name for the new town
was a topic of no little interest, and the
writer had something to do in its selection. It was decided to give it an Indian name. The
Dakota Lexicon, just published, and of which
I was the owner of a copy, was not infrequently consulted and at length the euphonious name
Anoka was decided upon. . . . It was said to
mean 'on both sides,' when rendered into less musical English, and to this day the name
is by no means inappropriate, as the town is
growing up and extending on either side of the beautiful but badly named river."
The "Rum" River was an important landmark for Minnesota Indians and early explorers
searching the Mississippi River valley. The Dakota
lived at the headwaters of this historic river. It flows out of Mille Lacs Lake. The
sacred Dakota name for Mille Lacs Lake is
Mde Wakan or Spirit Lake. Unfortunately, the "Rum" River has a profane
and controversial name. It is believed that the
sacred Dakota name for this historic river (Wakan), translated as (Great)
Spirit, was mistranslated in a punning way by
early 18th century white fur traders to mean the spirituous liquor (rum), and that this
is how it received its current profane name.
Daniel DuLuth, a French explore, was sent to the region in 1676 by the Governor of New
France, Count Frontenac. He reached the southern
shore of Mille Lacs Lake on July 1679. And upon discovering the great village of the
Dakota he set up the arms of his majesty in token
of a claim by right of discovery. By doing so, he claimed the Dakota's sacred
homeland territory as French territory, including the land
now know as Anoka. When he did this he was following the edicts of his Pope and King,
or abiding by the Christian Doctrine of Discovery.
After this occurred, no other European nation's explorer could claim the
Dakota's homeland territory for his nation, provided French
colonist settlers subjugated the Dakota and annexed their land, which they could do
by forcing the Dakota from their sacred homeland
The Ojibwe had come to Minnesota with the French fur traders. For a while the Ojibwe
and Dakota lived peacefully, often trading and
occasionally intermarrying. But, unfortunately, the peace did not last long. French
fur traders were trading furs for alcohol, or
spreading the disease of alcoholism amongst the two tribes. This caused excessive
completion for furs, and this, in turn, caused
the two tribes to become enemies who were at war with each other. And to make this
situation even worse, the French settlers
instigated conflicts between the Dakota and Ojibwe, and allied with the Ojibwe.
The Battle of Kathio, fought between the Dakota and Ojibwe in 1750, demonstrated the
early advantage the Ojibwe established by
acquiring gun powder and muskets from their French allies. The Dakota, armed with bows
and arrows, were defeated and moved to the
Minnesota and lower Mississippi river valleys. After being forced from their sacred
homeland territory some Dakotas would occasionally
return to try to regain the region. After about thirty years and two major battles with
the Ojibwe they did not return again to try to
regain their sacred homeland territory. White settlers and the Ojibwe then took full
possession of the Dakotas sacred homeland
territory. The Ojibwe were given a small area of it to live on in the Mille Lacs Lake
area. To this present-day, neither the Dakota
nor Ojibwe own any of the sacred homeland territory that once belonged to the Dakota
According to the Christian Doctrine of Discovery, only white European Christian
nations could own land. This religious doctrine was
later modified to include our predominately white Euro-American Christian nation.
It was then written into United States law. This is
why Indians cannot own land to this present-day, nor are they allowed by the U.S. to
be full independent sovereign nations. The
fifteenth century Papal Bull, Inter Caetera, instructed Christian settlers to "subjugate
the barbaric nations, and bring them to
the faith itself". Christian settlers subjugated the Dakota and annexed their land,
including the land now known as Anoka. White
colonist settlers allied with the Ojibwe to force the Dakota from their sacred homeland
territory. Recently, the Dakota have begun
returning to their traditional homelands to reconcile and unite with the people now
living in them.
After being pushed from their "Rum River" watershed homeland territory, some of the
Dakota people established a village in what is now
Winona, Minnesota. White settlers later forced them from this sacred homeland territory
of theirs. Recently, a Winona Dakota Unity
Alliance was founded and for the last four years Dakota people have been coming from
Nebraska and South and North Dakota where they
were exiled to after the 1862 Dakota conflict, to gather and celebrate their return to
their traditional homeland territory in Winona.
This occurs during annual pow-wows and reconciliatory/unity events. And just recently,
an Anoka Dakota Unity Alliance was founded.
The appearance of Dakota people at this Anoka County sesquicentennial event is the
beginning of the Dakota's return to their sacred
traditional homeland territory in Anoka.