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Native North Americans

A guide to resources related to interactions between Scandinavian immigrants and Native North Americans.




This Research Guide is for materials related to interactions between Native North Americans and Scandinavian immigrants available at the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center. 

Native North Americans and Scandinavian Immigrants

One major topic to explore is the Dakota War of 1862 (also known as the Sioux Uprising/Dakota Uprising/Sioux Outbreak/Dakota Conflict/Little Crow's War). During the war, the Dakota/eastern Sioux in Minnesota attacked some settlers, including Scandinavian immigrants, causing many to flee the area. Some immigrant accounts in our collection detail this conflict firsthand, secondhand, or years after the fact. 

Keywords / Search terms:

Here are some search terms to try in the library catalog or other search areas. Using the asterisk (*) is a wildcard option, that will return variations on a search term. For example, Indigen* will bring up Indigenous, Indigeneity, etc.

  • Native American
  • Indians of North America
  • Indigen*
  • Colonialism
  • Native

Possible research questions:

  • How does the Dakota War characterize interactions between Native Americans and Swedish settlers? Is there historical evidence for other types of interactions also occurring?
  • How does the settler colonial history of Scandinavian American immigrants compare with the settler history of Scandinavians colonizing Sami territories in Northern Scandinavia?
  • The Swenson Center's C. W. Mortenson collection consists of approximately 200 books on the Viking presence in North America, many of which dispute the claim that Columbus “discovered” America. Consider the arguments between Viking and Columbus “discovery,” and contrast these both with Native American perspectives of land, ownership, and historical interactions. See the “Other Resources” tab for suggestions



Here are some more books to get you started!


Negotiating settlement: colonialism, cultural exchange, and conflict in early colonial Atlantic North America, 1580-1660

                Van Zandt, Cynthia Jean, 1998.

Kort beskrifning om Provincien Nya Swerige uti Amerika (A short description of the Province of New Sweden in America).

                Holm, Thomas Campanius, 1988.

Bland Nordamerikas indianer, bilder ur indianernas utvecklingshisoria intill våra dagar

                Lindquist, Gustavus Elmer Emanuel, 1926.

Germans and Indians: fantasies, encounters, projections

                Calloway, Colin G., 2002.

Scandinavians in Chicago: the origins of white privilege in modern America

                Jackson, Erika K., 2019.

America's architectural roots: ethnic groups that built America

                Upton, Dell. 1986.


Archival Collections

Archival Collections

MSS P:4 John Olof Viking papers

 Correspondence. Viking's best friend was the Swedish-American writer and poet, Johan Gustav Runeskiold Baner of Ironwood, Michigan. Besides their common ancestry they shared knowledge of the Chippewa Indians culture and language. The two friends wrote each other several times a week. As a result of Viking's friendship with the Chippewa's they gave him the title Hofobi Anukfili. Viking was deeply interested in preserving the history of the Swedish pioneer and the American Indian and contributed to the Great Lakes Historical Society, New Sweden Historical Museum, Philadelphia and the Swedish Historical Society of America. [See copy of correspondence on MSS P:Micro 11]


MSS P:4 John Olof Viking papers 

Scrapbooks. Viking's scrapbooks contain clippings from mostly local Upper Peninsula newspapers and they reflect his broad interests and curiosity in local history. The scrapbooks cover the period 1930-1953 and are arranged by subject including "Indians."


SAC P:81 Erik Jönsson letter copies 

Collection includes a photocopy and English translation of a letter describing the Sioux Uprising of 1862 in Nicollet County, Minnesota and the murder of Erik Jönsson's wife and son. Also includes a typed article recollection of the same by another survivor, C.C. Nelson, in The Lafayette Ledger newspaper.


MSS P:11 Peter Anderson Cederstam papers 

From Chisago Lake, the Cederstram family moved to St. Peter and Scandian Grove (Minnesota) where they stayed until the Indian uprising in 1862 (also known as the Dakota War and the Sioux Uprising). The family fled, and eventually found themselves in Galesburg, Illinois where they stayed at Hasselquist's house until a call from the Swedish congregation in Geneva, Illinois was issued in 1863.


MSS P:264  Peter Broberg family papers

The papers include genealogical information, correspondence, news articles and clippings pertaining to the family history and the Monson Lake massacre, as well as numerous family photographs from New London, Minnesota (mostly under unidentified). The photographs and albums are all original, as are some of the older correspondence, but many of the newspaper clippings and articles are photocopies. The collection also has a witness account from Peter Broberg describing in detail his experiences at the Monson Lake massacre, as recorded by his granddaughter, Christine Anderson. Anderson's account also describes Broberg's sympathies towards Native American peoples for the ways they were treated by the United States government. Also included are also Peter Broberg's account books from his years as a co-owner of the Leading Store in New London, Minnesota.

Other Resources

Other Resources

Here are some other resources to consider alongside the Swenson Center’s library and archives. Some of these speak more broadly to Native American experiences and perspectives of colonialism and immigration, and therefore may help to contextualize the historical interactions between Swedish immigrants and Native peoples. These resources may be found by searching through Tredway, i-Share, and Google Scholar. This is not an exhaustive list!


Books and articles by scholars of Indigenous studies:


The transit of empire: Indigenous critiques of colonialism.

                Byrd, Jodi A., 2011.


Caretaking Relations, Not American Dreaming

                Tallbear, Kim, 2019.


Settler colonialism and the elimination of the Native

                Wolfe, Patrick, 2006.


Critical Indigenous Studies: Engagements in First World Locations

                Moreton-Robinson, Aileen, ed., 2016.


Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life Across the Borders of Settler States

                Simpson, Audra, 2014.


Not "a nation of immigrants": settler colonialism, white supremacy, and a history of erasure and exclusion.

Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne, 2021.


Immigration and the Political Economy of Home: West Indian Brooklyn and American Indian Minneapolis, 1945-1992

                Buff, Rachel, 2001.



See a *dynamic* (constantly being updated, added to, and corrected) interactive map of Native territories, language areas, and treaties here: