Rare rock pile.

Indian Massacre Monument and Rare Rock Pile

Field review by the editors.

Merricourt, North Dakota

Santee Sioux warriors killed hundreds of whites in western Minnesota in 1862. The following year General Alfred Sully led his calvary deep into Dakota Territory to hunt them down. After an unsuccessful campaign, the general came across a large Indian hunting camp at Whitestone Hill. These Indians hadn't been in Minnesota, but Sully opened fire anyway. A two-day battle ensued, leaving 20 whites and between 150 and 300 Indians dead. It was, as a monument here notes, the "greatest massacre in North Dakota history."

There are actually three monuments for this massacre. The oldest and biggest, on the hill top, mourns the whites and ignores the Indians. Two others -- mere bronze plaques -- are at the bottom of the hill. They were erected much later. One mourns the Indians and the other tries to explain both sides of the story. Visitors can choose which monument suits them, although the whites clearly have won the photo opportunity battle.

Also here, standing in the narrow stretch of grass between the parking lot and the road that leads to the park supervisor's house, is a small, squat cairn of rocks, glued together with cement. An equally small, badly weathered wood sign teeters in front of it: "These rare stones are from the collection of Tom Shimmin, Dickey County pioneer." They appear to be the same brown rocks that one sees in every other cairn in North Dakota. When the sign falls down, no one will even notice that this pile exists -- unless they trip over it trying to take pictures of the massacre monuments.

Indian Massacre Monument and Rare Rock Pile

Whitestone Battlefield State Park

73rd Ave. SE, Merricourt, ND
Whitestone Battlefield State Park. 73rd Ave. SE to the park. The rare rock pile has its own sign, and is in the narrow stretch of grass between the parking lot and the road that leads to the park supervisor's house
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October 28, 2020

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