I don't think that silence does much

Mr. Juni reflects on commemorating the U.S.-Dakota War.

Things to think about: 

What is the best way to commemorate events that still resonate strongly with members of different communities?

Audio Chapters

DL: What's the best way to commemorate the events?

FJ: Well an editorial in the Minneapolis paper a couple of months ago that said the best way would be silence, but I don't think that silence does much. We hope that here in Brown County we're on the right track. We're going to tour the areas. We've got a full week of events planned. We hope that schools use it as an educational tool and that the young generations become aware of what occurred here.

But it needs to be done respectfully. That's a concern of mine, and I reiterate it at every meeting. We need to do this right. And hopefully do it with the help and with the blessing of the Dakota people. And we have some. Some people are cooperative and some have chosen not to be.

It shouldn't be a celebration, and it's difficult to prevent it from becoming a celebration. We even agonized over what to call it, and I did lose on that issue. We developed a logo that we think was good and fair. I just wanted a commemoration. I think they are calling it an anniversary. To me, an anniversary is something to celebrate, like a birthday. An anniversary has the connotation of celebration. Commemoration, to me, is something a little more sober, a little more somber. We are remembering. So, I think there's a big difference between “anniversary of” and “commemoration of”.

Nevertheless, we are doing this and we hope it opens some eyes and makes people aware. Frankly, I think as years go by people are becoming more interested in history; more than they used to be. And maybe it's just because I'm getting to be older, or am an old guy. But I think people seem to be really interested in history and preserving that history. If this commemoration is part of it, hopefully a hundred years from now someone will look at it and say, “Look what the people of Brown County did in 2011.” So, it's all part of the equation, and I think it's important that we do those things.

DL: Would you say that the Dakota are welcomed here today?

FJ: They're probably more ignored than welcomed, frankly. They do go by here on a walk, the march that they do. And they do go by on this highway oftentimes. Apparently they go through New Ulm. Are they welcomed? Well they don't send out the welcome wagon, but I would hope that people are tolerant. Welcomed? I'm not sure if that's the right word. But as generations pass, I'm assuming that the animosity will pass with it.

So by commemorating this are we keeping some of these memories alive that should be best forgotten? That's an interesting thought. Are we picking the scab off the wound a bit? You know, I hope that's not the case. But I can see where it's probably inevitable. My grandkids might say, "We taught those guys, you know, we showed them." And I hope that's not how it's perceived, because it's not meant to be that way. At least in my vision.

Oral History- Interview | Narrator Frederick Juni Interviewer Deborah Locke made in New Ulm, Milford Township, MN | Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. I don't think that silence does much March 19, 2019. http://www.usdakotawar.org/node/1060

Viewpoints: All viewpoints expressed on this website are those of the contributors, and are not representative of the Minnesota Historical Society.