Q&A: What was the Hazelwood Mission and Republic?
In the spring of 1854, many of the homes at the Dakota settlement at Lac qui Parle burned down in a fire. The Dakota along with missionary Stephen R. Riggs decided they would rebuild their settlement closer to the Upper Agency where they could more readily receive the benefits provided for them by the U.S. government.
The new settlement was built throughout the summer of 1854 and was called Hazelwood. According to Riggs himself, “the idea was to commence a settlement of the civilized and Christianized Dakotas.” Here they established a church and boarding school. They encouraged the Dakotas to cut their hair, take up farming, build a wood frame home, learn Christianity and speak English. After several years they had developed what Riggs called a “respectable community.”
At this time the Dakotas decided to organize themselves as a separate band which they called the Hazelwood Republic. They elected a president and organized officers and were easily recognized by the Indian Agent at the time as their own band. Reverend Riggs was encouraged that before long the Hazelwood Dakota would become citizens of the state of Minnesota. Some of the more well known members of the Hazelwood Mission and Republic included Taopi, Good Thunder, Wabasha, and John Otherday. But, the Republic and Mission would not last long as it was destroyed during the U.S. – Dakota War of 1862.
Read the description of Hazelwood by Stephen Riggs – page 155-156
Stephen R. Riggs, Mary and I: Forty Years with the Sioux, (Boston: Congregational Sunday School and Publishing Society, 1888).