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Paynesville Area


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the Lake

Notes from the Paynesville Historical Society. . .

Indian life - good and bad

By Mark Braun

Imagine waking up one spring morning and seeing a herd of bison grazing in your backyard. It doesn't seem possible in 2003, but 200 years ago it was a reality.

In 1803, the west was an unknown territory. It was just a year earlier in 1802 the Louisiana Purchase took place. It was just Native Americans and bison roaming the west. They were at least the only ones that knew where they were going.

They roamed all over the plains and even ventured to Paynesville. With beautiful summers, like the one we are having, I can see why. The Indians had fertile soil and crops grew wonderfully. The bison had an abundance of grass to eat and plenty of water with the many lakes in our area.

The Indians lived this way for many years. It was when white settlers got braver and ventured to the west that times changed. The Indians were forced onto government lands. There were tribes that tried to fight it but in the end it was no use.

Many different events took place because of new settlers. One was the Trail of Tears, in which one out of eight Cherokees died on their way to Indian territory.

Another was the Sioux uprising. This started when four Sioux men scalped five white settlers. In the end this event took many lives and destroyed many towns and cities. Paynesville was no exception, it was burned to the ground.

Life changed a lot for the Indians over the years. From traveling around following the bison to being forced onto Indian lands. They saw many great times and suffered many bad times.

Stop by the Paynesville Museum, located on the east side of town by Koronis Tire, for more information on Indian life. We hope to see you before the summer is history.