We acknowledge that the land that is now Rice County, MN, was a part of their homeland and for many tribal members it is still their home today
Before other cultures and races began immigrating to North America, the entire continent was occupied by hundreds of thriving tribes. In what is now Minnesota, the Dakota occupied most of the state and much of the neighboring states. In our region of the state, the band of the Dakota that was here was the Wahpekute.
These semi-nomadic people knew the land, not only as a resource but as a relative and partner in the way of life. Their winter homes were teepees made from American Bison skins and during the summer the Wahpekute made their homes in elm bark lodges near the lakes and rivers. The land that is Rice County was opened up to European Settlement after the Treaty of Mendota was signed in 1851. This created great opportunities for those coming from other places, but it came at a great cost to the Dakota.
To better share the history of the Wahpekute in our area, we again partnered with a Carelton College Historians for Hire Class who created this website, “History of the Wahpekute“.
This is, of course, only a small portion of the history of the First Peoples of our area. We continue to research and better understand those who have come before us. To learn more about the Wahpekute and to see some of the artifacts left behind millennia ago, please visit our museum, Rice County Historical Society, 1814 NW 2nd Ave., Faribault, MN.