Little War on the Prairie

It was 150 years ago this month that the U.S.-Dakota war ended with one of the most noteworthy events in Minnesota history -- the hanging of 38 Dakota men in Mankato. We tell the story from the perspective of John Biewen, a Mankato native who heard next to nothing about the war during his childhood there. Biewen, a longtime radio producer, traveled southern Minnesota to places where key events occurred, so he could explore what happened in all its complexity.

Read the story ›

Listen to the story ›
(Right-click and save to download MP3)

by John Biewen
December 11, 2012
Photos: The Dakota War then and now
By Caroline Yang

Production of "Little War on the Prairie" for MPR is supported, in part, by the Legacy Amendment for Arts and Cultural Heritage. An alternate version of the documentary aired recently on This American Life.

Dakota war map

A map of the region where the U.S.-Dakota war was fought over 36 days in 1862.

Other voices of the war
Henry Sibley

We examine the war and its consequences from the perspectives of other Indians, white settlers and politicians of the day.

About John Biewen
John Biewen

John Biewen teaches and produces radio documentaries at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. He was a reporter at Minnesota Public Radio from 1983-1997. He later worked for NPR News and American RadioWorks, the documentary unit of American Public Media.