Q&A: Who was Lorenzo Lawrence?

Q&A: Who was Lorenzo Lawrence?

Lorenzo Lawrence was a full blooded Dakota of the Upper Bands of Sissetons and Wahpetons.  Lorenzo was born in 1824 and was raised by his mother at Lac qui Parle.  His mother being a Christian, Lorenzo was influenced by the missionaries and was a member of the church at Lac qui Parle.  In 1854, he helped found the Hazelwood Mission and was a leading member of the Hazelwood Republic.  He was also the first Dakota to become a legal U.S. citizen.

Lorenzo Lawrence, MNHS Collections

Lorenzo Lawrence opposed the U.S. – Dakota War and sought to protect whites from violence despite the risks on his own life.  During the war, Lorenzo’s mother gave food and shelter to a captive named Mrs. Jannette DeCamp along with her two sons.  As the camp was preparing to retreat, Lorenzo helped guide them to a marsh where they hid until the camp had been moved.  Then, Lorenzo helped guide the now escaped captives along the river toward Fort Ridgley.  As they traveled they faced many tribulations from hunger, thirst, severe weather, exhaustion, and fear.  After five days they made it safely to Fort Ridgely along with Mrs. Robideaux and her five children who had been discovered along the way.

Lorenzo Lawrence Rescue by David Geister, MNHS Collections

After his daring rescue, Lorenzo Lawrence joined Colonel Sibley and the U.S. soldiers.  After the war he continued as a scout for Sibley’s army.

Read Mrs. DeCamp’s Narrative – page 354

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Jannette E. DeCamp Sweet, “Mrs. J.E. DeCamp Sweet’s Narrative of her Captivity in the Sioux Outbreak of 1862,” Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, Vol. 6, (St. Paul:  The Pioneer Press Company, 1894), 354-380.


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