Dragseth Letter: UMN Crookston Kiehle Murals 'The rest of the Story'

Allan Dragseth

My name is Allan Dragseth and I am a 1957 graduate of the NWSA. I am writing this in rebuttal to the article by John Hoffman in the November 17th Crookston Times from UMC concerning the “racist murals” in Kiehle Auditorium. The “Cancel Culture” is live and well at UMC. By this I mean the movement that has become popular recently where if you don’t like what someone once did or said, you tear down their statue or remove their name. Mr Hoffman is using a form of the Critical Race Theory where by you try to shame the white European race for what our ancestors supposedly did many years ago.

On June 1, 2021 I met with Mr Hoffman at his request. At that time he told of the formation of his committee and their critique of the Murals in Kiehle. What his article doesn’t tell you is their reasoning for their opinion on the murals. But first of all it appears as nobody but this committee knows just what John Socha the artist was trying to say.

Now for their opinion. In his article he states what they think the artist is portraying in the left panel is Europeans showing the wars and conquest to come. I’ve been in that auditorium many times for over 70 years and never came up with that idea. The right panel portrays white men in suits lording it over the Indians who Socha shows them in the wrong kind of clothing with their skin coloring too red and their heads smaller than the white men indicating more cranial capacity. These are his words not mine. Mr. Hoffman’s piece also refers to the bounty on Indian scalps but fails to tell that this came about after the Dakota massacred over 600 southwest Minnesota settlers. The large executions he refers to were those convicted of the massacre. President Lincoln commuted the sentence of most and the 38 who were executed were convicted of rape, murder and other atrocities.

This committee wants to take down or cover these murals which are one artists version of what happened and should be used as a teaching opportunity. The University is proud of their Diversity which is another word for Division which pits one race against another. With their enrollment going down I think that UMC has bigger problems than tearing down these murals. If you would like more information on this I can show you the pamphlet they have printed and circulated on campus. I’m also wondering who the members of this committee are. Feel free to call me whatever your opinion.

Allan Dragseth