Student Spotlight: Brieanna Watters

Brieanna was born and raised in northern Minnesota, and received her B.A. in Sociology from Augsburg College in 2011. After completing her M.A. in Sociology from Queen’s University in Northern Ireland, she served in AmeriCorps as a Promise Fellow, taught sociology at a community college in Oregon, and was the Family Liaison at an Ojibwe culture and language school last year. With broad interests in mass violence, collective memory, 3_Brie.jpgand settler colonialism, she returned to Minneapolis to pursue her Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Minnesota.

Brieanna writes for the CHGS blog on topics and events related to both American Indians broadly, and the Dakota and Ojibwe specifically. She is currently involved in a team project with Alejandro Baer examining over a century of local and national newspaper articles and their representations of the Dakota War of 1862; a timely undertaking, given the push toward revitalizing Fort Snelling and decisions to remove controversial art at the State Capitol. In addition, she is working on a side project with two other graduate students titled, “Imagining a “Final Solution” to “Never Again”: Experiencing Empathy through Digital and Non-Digital Games”.

Whose History? Why Not All History Needs to be Represented in Our Capitol (Part 2)

If you’ve been to St. Paul lately, you’ve likely seen that the Minnesota Capitol Building is undergoing a massive renovation. More than $300 million is being spent to make the century-plus building a host of structural and technological upgrades. Once completed in the fall, a nearly two year-long project will come to an end.

However, it is not the building itself that’s been grabbing headlines. Instead, it’s the art inside – art that’s been estimated to be worth nearly $1 billion. Many of these pieces depict key moments in the state’s history: Among them the landing of Father Hennepin and the gallantry of the 2nd Minnesota Company from the American Civil war. One piece that will not be on display when the Capitol reopens is a 1906 work by Anton Gag. It shows the attack on New Ulm by Dakota warriors during the short-lived 1862 conflict.

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“Attack on New Ulm” by Anton Gag, 1904

Continue reading “Whose History? Why Not All History Needs to be Represented in Our Capitol (Part 2)”

The Art of Minnesota’s UnCivil War: Is the State Capitol its Proper Home? (Part 1)

The Minnesota State Capitol, not unlike other political spaces around the world, displays artwork meant to illustrate important moments in the history of the state. Of these, a number of paintings have created significant debate among politicians and community members.

Nearly a decade after the contentious Dakota War of 1862, an oil painting depicting Dakota warriors attacking white German settlers in New Ulm has, until this year, hung on the walls of the Minnesota State Capitol. The artist, Anton Gag, created “Attack on New Ulm” nearly forty years after the event. On January 26th, 1887, The New Ulm Review reported that, “Mr. Gag’s undertaking is commendable and every one interested in the history of the dark days of New Ulm should aid him.”

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“Attack on New Ulm” by Anton Gag, 1904

Continue reading “The Art of Minnesota’s UnCivil War: Is the State Capitol its Proper Home? (Part 1)”