Senior history majors saw first-hand how complicated commemorating history can be, thanks to a capstone class that drew on events marking the 150th anniversary of Minnesota’s U.S.-Dakota War. “The U.S.-Dakota War is remembered as the events in 1862 which were the outbreak of armed conflict,” says history professor and chair Jamie Monson, who taught one section of the capstone. “But the capstone isn’t really about the war—it’s about the practice of history.”

With one section focused on memory and the other on migration, both classes supplemented their study of history with connections in the Twin Cities and around Minnesota, examining multiple interpretations of the conflict’s events. The semester included guest speakers on the topic, visits to exhibits and events around the Twin Cities, and a weekend camping trip in southern Minnesota with stops at significant sites of memory related to the war. “We’re looking at how we remember the past and how we negotiate it,” says Nic Lechault ‘13 (Geneva, Switzerland). 

Says history professor Karin Velez, who taught the capstone’s other section: “It’s been really beneficial for students, as aspiring historians, to see that the process of making history is very fraught and difficult.”

November 5 2012

Back to top