Man translates letters of Dakota imprisoned in MN

Fargo, North Dakota (AP) January 2011

A Dakota elder who teaches at North Dakota State University is translating letters written by American Indians who were imprisoned in Minnesota after the Dakota Conflict of 1862.

The 150 letters had been stored in a box at the Minnesota Historical Society for decades. Clifford Canku so far has translated 50 of them.

He tells Minnesota Public Radio that some writers talk about the six weeks of fighting along the Minnesota River Valley that left hundreds of American Indians, settlers and soldiers dead. Others describe prison life.

NDSU English professor Bruce Maylath says the letters add important first-person perspective to a troubling time in history. Canku says itÂ’s time for the long silent voices to be heard.

The letters will be published early next year in book form.