Forts on Burial Mounds: Strategies of Colonization in the Dakota Homeland

Author(s): Sigrid Arnott; David Maki

Year: 2016


For hundreds of years, Upper Midwest Dakota constructed burial earthworks at natural liminal spaces. These sacred landscapes signaled boundaries between sky, earth, and water realms; the living and the dead; and local bands. During the 19th century, the U.S. Government took ownership of Dakota homelands in Minnesota and the Dakotas leading to decades of violent conflict. At the boundaries of conflict forts were built to help the military "sweep the region now occupied by hostiles" and protect new Euro-American settlers. Fort Sisseton, built by the U.S. government in South Dakota, during the 1864 Dakota Campaign, and Fort Juelson built in 1876 by Norwegian Civil War Veteran immigrants during an "Indian Panic" were both knowingly constructed on top of Dakota burial mounds, appropriating sacred cemetery landscapes to demonstrate the military and cultural dominion of the colonizers. Geophysical survey and historical research explore the archaeological expression and significance of these interlocked landscapes.

Cite this Record

Forts on Burial Mounds: Strategies of Colonization in the Dakota Homeland. Sigrid Arnott, David Maki. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434425)


Temporal Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 199