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Reclaiming Mni Sota: An Alternate History of The U.S. – Dakota War of 1862

Reclaiming Mni Sota: An Alternate History of The U.S. – Dakota War of 1862

Two cultures met in Minnesota—one striving to maintain its homeland and traditions, another trying to create a life of freedom, prosperity, and abundance.  

Samuel Copeland was just a teenager in 1859 when he and his family left Vermont for the promise of a new life in Minnesota. But life is harder and more dangerous than he expected. Devastated by the loss of his father at the hands of Indians and seeking to protect his brother, Samuel joins the Union army believing he’d be safe on the frontier. WaabiskiMakwa was still a boy in 1850 when his father perished at Sandy Lake because of the negligence of U.S. government officials. Seeing his way of life crumbling around him, WaabiskiMakwa leaves his home to mourn his father and seek a new way, one that includes his lost-love, Agnes. Seeking their own solutions, neither Waabi or Samuel could see the collision course their paths had been set upon by a world in conflict. War was in their future and it was inevitable. But when war breaks out, and their cultures collide, so do their individual paths. Though they can’t stop the war, maybe they can help each other. 

Fueled by years of mistreatment and seeing the opportunity provided by the War with the South, Dakota spokesman Little Crow and Ojibwe leader Bagone-giizhig, join forces in an effort to reclaim their Native lands. Spurred by early victories over Fort Ridgley and New Ulm, the Dakota-Ojibwe Alliance heads north to Fort Snelling, the beacon of American strength in the region. Once thought impenetrable, the fort and its small group of volunteer militia fights to hang on when a new enemy arrives from the West. 

In Reclaiming Mni Sota, the true and lasting results of history are challenged. Acting as individuals, striving to protect ourselves and our families, it’s impossible to understand our role and impact in the much larger march of time. The United States is an abundant, beautiful land filled with wealth and opportunity, but its history is scarred by inequity and loss. What if the defeated became the victors? What would that mean for the world today and how would that illuminate the wrongs of the past?  


Advance Praise

“Reclaiming Mni Sota is a well-researched and impassioned tale of an unlikely friendship between two men: Waabi, an Ojibwe destined to reclaim his people’s land, and Samuel, a white farmer from the infant United States seeking a better life on the frontier. A painful, heart-wrenching, yet triumphant read, this is an alternate history in which Mustful paints the ending this country needed, and the Native population deserved.” 
– Lindsey S. Fera, Historical Fiction Author

“With a historian’s eye for detail and a novelist’s empathy for individuals, this wonderful novel suggests an alternative ending to the 1862 war, one that inspires contemplation about what could have happened and what did.”
– Linda Ulleseit, author of The River Remembers

“What if the Ojibwa and Dakota conquered old rivalries to fight the U.S soldiers during the 1862 U.S-Dakota War? Many believe their combined forces would have pushed the whites out of Minnesota and changed history forever. Colin Mustful’s Reclaiming Mni Sota is an imaginative and intriguing story of what might have happened if this alliance had been made. Reclaiming Mni Sota may give an alternative account of this tragic episode of Minnesota history, but it also leaves the reader pondering race relationships today. It kept me reading to the very last page.”
– Candace Simar, Author of the Spur-Award winning Abercrombie Trail Series

“Mustful brings one of the most tragic events in Minnesota’s history to life in this carefully researched book.”
– Stephen E. Yoch, author of Becoming George Washington

“As an author and educator, one of my favorite things to do is pose the question “What if?”  In Colin Mustful’s novel Reclaiming Mni Sota, he poses this question about the Dakota War of 1862. The answer? A compelling re-imagining of history that is accessible to the reader while also creating empathetic characters from both perspectives of the war. 

Beginning with two young men who are learning from their elders how to exist in the world they were born into, Mustful’s deft hand at exposition brings us closer and closer to the penultimate moment with a growing sense of dread. When the historical events diverge into an alternate timeline, I found myself reflecting on the real timeline and questioning the “inevitability” of Manifest Destiny when the choices of two characters had the power to shape Minnesota into something much different.” 
– Jason Lee Willis, Author and Educator


About the Author

Colin Mustful is an independent historian, author, and publisher. His work, which includes five historical novels, focuses on the tumultuous and complicated periods of settler-colonialism and Native displacement in American history. He has a Master of Arts degree in history and a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing. He is the founder and editor of History Through Fiction, an independent press that publishes compelling historical novels that are based on real events and people. As a traditional publisher, he works with authors who want to share important historical stories with the world. Mustful is an avid runner and soccer player who lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He believes that learning history is vital to understanding our world today and finding just, long-lasting solutions for the future.

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