BISMARCK — A new historical marker will dot the spot of a 156-year-old battle between the U.S. and the Dakota and Lakota people that took place where the University of Mary now stands.
Tribal representatives, university officials and the National Guard will unveil a prototype of the marker on campus Friday, Oct. 11, after a convocation and ceremony, according to a news release from the University of Mary. Once weather improves and re-landscaping on the campus is completed, the official marker will be installed.
The marker commemorates the 1863 Fight at Little Apple Creek between Dakota and Lakota warriors and Gen. Henry Sibley’s troops.
“The Battle of Apple Creek adds to the legend of North Dakota, and to U.S. and Native American history — one that is often neglected or continually overlooked by many historians and scholars,” the release said.
Dakota Goodhouse, a citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and a Native American studies professor at the United Tribes Technical College, recalled in 2004 when surveyors found shovel-fulls of arrowheads on the hill during a highway construction project. The sight “made the oral record real, since the physical evidence was there,” he said in the release.
Goodhouse said the Apple Creek Fight lasted from July 30 to Aug. 1, 1863, and was a victory for the Dakota and Lakota as Sibley eventually withdrew from the field.
Leading up to the battle, Sibley received orders in June of 1863 to engage any Sioux Indians in retaliation for the 1862 Minnesota Dakota Conflict.
But before the Apple Creek Fight began, the Dakota and Lakota people gained enough lead time from Gen. Sibley’s troops that their women, children and elders navigated the crossing where Apple Creek converges with the Missouri River. Meanwhile, “about 500 warriors took command of Mayá Owáse K’ápi, The Bluff Where They Dig for Paint” (as the tribe called the hill where the University of Mary now stands), Goodhouse said.
Sibley’s forces, outnumbering the Dakota and Lakota four-to-one, were unable to take the hill or any prisoners and retreated, giving the Dakota and Lakota a “clear victory,” Goodhouse said.
The hill where the University of Mary’s campus sits and where the historical marker will be placed “played a significant role in that victory,” the news release said.
Friday’s events, which are free and open to the public, begin at 10 a.m. with a convocation detailing the Little Apple Creek Fight by Goodhouse at the Butler Auditorium inside the Gary Tharaldson School of Business. A ceremony commemorating that fight will take place after at 10:50 a.m., with representatives from various tribes, the National Guard and University of Mary in attendance.