Article Written by Chandra Colvin. Photo by Chandra Colvin.

On April 10, the Multicultural Resource Center held a lecture as a part of an ongoing series, focusing on upcoming or already published books. This particular book lecture was titled, “To Banish Forever, A Secret Society, the Ho-Chunk, and Ethnic Cleansing in Minnesota” with Cathy Coats and special guest, Amy Lonetree.

Coats is a former St. Cloud State University alumna and staff member. She is currently a metadata specialist at the University of Minnesota Libraries. The lecture was held to discuss her newly published book under the same title, in which she published the initial thesis during her graduate years at SCSU.

The book is the first to highlight the Ho-Chunk Nation’s historical connection to Minnesota. Coats says that there has been a lack of knowledge and mention as well as ignorance to the fact that the Ho-Chunk Nation was removed from the state in 1862 from Blue Earth County near Mankato.

Coats began her research into the topic during her graduate years at SCSU and used Winona LaDuke’s Last Standing Woman as inspiration when learning about a secret society that had been formed near Mankato by local white settlers, known as Knights of the Forest. The society was formed right after the U.S.-Dakota War in 1862. Her book shares about the society and the acts that were committed against the Ho-Chunk people during the time.

After the initial thesis had been posted online, the Minnesota Historical Society had reached out to her wanting to help make it into a published book. Coats worked with Ho-Chunk tribal historic officers and leaders from both Nebraska and Wisconsin. She also did research in Mankato for both her thesis and further research when developing the manuscript for the book.

Amy Lonetree, an enrolled citizen of the Ho-Chunk Nation and a Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Cruz, had helped her during the editing process and gave feedback for publishing. Her scholarly research focuses on twentieth century Native American history and museum studies, and authored the book titled, “Decolonizing Museums: Representing Native America in National and Tribal Museums.”

Lonetree also joined the lecture from California via Zoom and shared many insightful historical references to Ho-Chunk people and their connections to Minnesota.

Coats and Lonetree shared that the results and further aimed results of the published book are making Minnesotans aware of the Ho-Chunk Nation’s removal from the state, gaining institutional recognition, and recognition of the Ho-Chunk Nation in future land acknowledgements. Not only does the book aim for awareness from general audiences, but the book is also helping Ho-Chunk people to also understand their own history as a nation.

Coats stated during the lecture, “I’m trying to engage in truth telling in Minnesota history,” and that she wanted to “tell untold stories.”

Coats read two excerpts from the book before the lecture was open for Q&A from the audience, who were actively engaged in conversations and wanted to learn more.

The Multicultural Resource Center will hold another Lecture Series before the end of the Semester on April 22, at 7 p.m. in the Atwood Theater. The next lecture, titled, “It Took Courage” by Chris Lehman will focus on Eliza Winston, an enslaved woman who was once purchased by President Andrew Jackson. She escaped her captors while traveling with them in the free state of Minnesota and secured her freedom through legal appeal.

The event is free and will be open to both students and the public.

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