This year, and into April of next year, marks the 200th anniversary of Lt. Zebulon Montgomery Pike's Mississippi River expedition. In 1805/06, Pike and his men were sent upriver to explore this portion of the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase. When he reached the Morrison County area in mid-October, winter descended, causing the men to halt their journey and build a fort. A couple of months later, Pike continued north, eventually reaching Leech Lake.
As a military expedition, Pike and his men had several goals to meet on their journey, which was tracked in a journal by Pike. One of these was to acquire land for military outposts. Before the men reached the Morrison County area, they negotiated a treaty with the Dakota for land near St. Anthony Falls. It was upon this land that Ft. Snelling, the first major Minnesota settlement, was built. The treaty is a controversial one and the ramifications of it continue to be felt to this day.
While Lewis and Clark's expedition has garnered an Omnitheater movie, a Ken Burns documentary, many books and exhibits, and a Sacagawea dollar coin, Pike, who was essentially doing the same thing, exploring the Louisiana Purchase, gets hardly any notice. As Minnesotans, we should know the role Pike and our state played in westward expansion.
~Mary Warner, Little Falls, MN
Zebulon Pike. He made the first treaty. Foothold of settlement. Established a relationship with the Native Americans.