Fort Snelling Community Conversations To Tell Painful History

The Minnesota Historical Society is preparing for a major overhaul of Fort Snelling in anticipation of the Forts’ 200th Anniversary in 2019. MHS has announced its intentions to do more truth telling about the Fort’s painful past and to engage the community in the process.

MHS has announced a series of monthly community conversations about Fort Snelling, May through October, on the third Thursday of each month. Guest speakers will give informal lectures on various topics about Fort Snelling’s history, and participants will engage in facilitated conversation about what that history means for us today. Dialogues will be facilitated by Minnesota Historical Society staff trained by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.

The sessions will be held at different sites around the Twin Cities and run from from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Admission is free. Reservations are recommended. (Go to to learn more.)

Here are the four meetings announced so far in the community conversation series. More will be announced soon:

  • May 19 – Mapping Memory: Mona Smith, a Dakota media artist and an “artist lead” of the Healing Place Collaborative, will discuss the Bdote Memory Map, an online effort to share Dakota expressions of relationship to sites in what’s now called the Twin Cities. The event will be held at the Visitor’s Center below the historic fort, accessed through Fort Snelling State Park via the Post Road exit off Highway 5, 101 Snelling Lake Rd., St. Paul, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
  • June 16 – Crisis of Incarceration: Alisha Volante, Ph.D. candidate and founder of Socially Conscious Social Studies LLC, will discuss the history of incarceration of Native people in Minnesota. (Here is a short video of Volante speaking about Fort Snelling.) The event will be held at the Minneapolis American Indian Center, 1530 East Franklin Ave., Minneapolis,  5:30-7:30 p.m.
  • July 21: World War II & the Japanese American Experience: Sally Sudo, whose family was held in an Idaho Japanese Internment Camp during World War II simply for being Japanese, will discuss her family’s experience and the role Fort Snelling played in their lives. (See this New York Times article which quotes Sudo.) The event will be held in the Fireside Room of the Normandale Community College Student Center, 9700 France Ave. S., Bloomington, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 20: Visualizing Absent Landscapes: Professor Kat Hayes, professor of anthropology at the University of Minnesota, will discuss the layers of landscape that have existed over time around Fort Snelling and the impact physical changes have had on the historical narrative. The event will be held at Historic Fort Snelling

These dialogues are intended to be safe place to discuss today’s issues and the history that sheds light on them. Refreshments provided.

Here is our original blog on the Fort Snelling Redesign Process.

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