"Earlier Inhabitants"

Photo of Dakota dwellings on the prairie, 1865.

A Dakota encampment on the prairie, 1865

Minnesota Historical Society Photograph Collection, Location no. E91.31 r27 Negative no. 36287

People successfully lived on the prairie for thousands of years before the settlers came along. Some, like the Dakota, followed the seasons and herds in and out of the region. The Hidatsa and others built semi-permanent villages and farmed the productive prairie earth.

White settlement in the area around Marshall came about after the Dakota had been pushed out of the state. Treaties in 1851 and 1858 forced the tribe onto a small strip of land along the Minnesota River. A final straw—the failure of the government to provide the promised payment—prompted some Dakota to war in 1862. Afterwards, the entire Dakota nation was marched out of the state, leaving empty lands that the government gave away to families like the Carpenters.