Ceding Contempt: Minnesota’s Most Significant Historical Event
In Minnesota’s fading frontier the once vibrant Dakota Indians were compelled and coerced to cede their bountiful homeland to those opportunists that would usher in a new era.
In 1851, the Dakota Indians signed the Treaties of Traverse des Sioux and Mendota, selling their lands west of the Mississippi River and effectively creating the region that would become the state of Minnesota. Frank Blackwell Mayer, a young artist from Baltimore, traveled to Minnesota to witness the negotiations between the Dakota Indians and the United States Government. Doing what he came to do, Mayer captured images of the Dakota Indians and the fleeting frontier through a variety of Illustrations. But he also found more. He found a beautiful land and a burgeoning, multicultural society who sought a prosperous future. He also discovered the unique and extraordinary nature of the Dakota nation.
Throughout his journey, Frank Mayer encountered many people and places that would become well known to Minnesota’s culture and history. Driven by curiosity over the treaty negotiations and his sympathy for one Dakota boy, Mayer became more than just an observer. Discovering the fraud and corruption within the Indian System, Mayer put aside his artistic ambitions and sought to expose the deceitful intentions of traders and politicians while protecting the friendless and impoverished Dakota Indians. However, what he found was worse than he could imagine and more than he could solve.