Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2015

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Brian Carroll

Second Committee Member

Daniel Herman

Third Committee Member

Roxanne Easley

Fourth Committee Member

Kevin Archer


Henry Hastings Sibley (1811-1891), fur trader and eventual first governor of Minnesota, worked closely among the sub-division of “Sioux” Indians known as the Dakota. Sibley first aided in the development of what historian Richard White called a “Middle Ground,” a racially mixed and symbiotic society. Later in his life, however, he assisted in negotiating treaties that transformed that frontier society into a racially divided and oppressive one. The result was the outbreak of hostilities between Indians, Whites, and mixed-race people in the Great Sioux Uprising, and ultimately the ethnic cleansing of Minnesota. This study approaches Sibley’s involvement on a microhistorical level, exposing the larger ethnohistorical and cultural framework of a racially mixed society. Sibley’s experience shows that it was still an important lucrative feature of fur trading and frontier life fifty years after. The end of the fur trade meant the destruction of the “Middle Ground” in Minnesota.


Signed embargo paperwork filled dated 7/20/2015. File posted to scholarworks 7/27/2015 by MR Blackson.