ST. CLOUD -- St. Cloud State University is trying to dig up the past with one of two recent grants from the Minnesota Historical Society.

St. Cloud State received two Cultural Heritage small grants. The first grant is for $6,543 and is going toward hiring a museum consultant to do a general preservation needs assessment survey and long-range collections preservation plan.

The second grant is larger and for a more in-depth project. SCSU's Department of Anthropology was awarded $10,000 to go toward finding material remains of a US military post that was built in Sauk Centre in 1862, during the US-Dakota War.

Rob Mann is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at SCSU. He says the grant will be mostly used to buy equipment to help find any materials that would be part of the military post.

"This money will help us fund that project. It will help us to be able to buy some equipment. The biggest pieces of equipment that we will purchase on this grant are a couple of pretty high-tech metal detectors that will help us hopefully penetrate fairly deep into the ground and locate artifacts that we hope are associated with the stockade."

The digging process should take about two weeks. The land where they think the military post was located is currently a residential area. Mann says they will be peeling back layers of history as they dig.

"A lot of construction has been taking place, a lot of things have been altered and changed over time and so we'll probably find evidence of that as well. Part of that process of archaeology is sorting out the different levels of history, os what is there today has probably been there for the last 100-150 years and the fort was there before that. So we've got to find our way through all of those layers of history."

The main goal of the project is to find evidence of the actual structure of the military post. Mann says if they do find that evidence that will help his team further explore the area.

"In archaeological research, we call this a survey level or phase one investigation. If we were fortunate enough to find evidence for the fort and we have cooperation from the community and property owners we might return next year to do what we call a phase two. Which would be more extensive, maybe excavations, maybe some additional survey work to try to locate other parts of the fort."

Mann's second in charge of the project is Mike Penrod. Penrod is a graduate student in the cultural resources management program at SCSU. Penrod says depending on their findings, the project could lead them to a better understanding of the people that inhabited the area in the 1860s.

"The army came in, in late 1862-early 1863 and built a very permanent structure with the intention of making a very permanent and specific statement to the Dakota, I think the Ojibwe, the white settlers, I also think to the British and to the French over issues related to the Civil War going on at the time. What would be really nice is if we could find  evidence of the people that were there."

The project is expected to begin July 9 in Sauk Centre. Mann says they will be digging in the area of 7th Street and Birch Street. There currently is a historical marker in that area.

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