Family dedicates new memorial to Wabasha

MORTON – Last year the Lower Sioux lost a great man. Ernest R. Wabasha, Hereditary Chief of the Dakota People passed away on March 28, 2013. One year after Wabasha’s passing a new gravestone was dedicated to him in the Episcopal Church Cemetery.

In addition to being Herditary Chief, Wabasha served in the US Navy during the Korean War. In 1953 he was given an honorary discharge. In 1956 Wabasha worked as a electronic technician in the Artic Cirle as part of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line. The DEW Line was a series of radar stations set up to detect incoming Soviet planes in the event of a Cold War invasion. Wabasha would also work for McDonell Douglass Aircraft for 10 years and for Honeywell 25 years.

Ernest Wabasha descended from a line of several Chiefs Wabasha – including the Mdewakanton leader forced to march into detainment at Fort Snelling and then exiled after the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 despite saving more than 100 white captives.

After the dedication, friends and family gathered in the nearby Community Center to share memories of Chief Wabasha. Wabasha is survived by his wife Vernell, a daughter and a son, several grandchildren, a granddaughter, a sister, nieces and nephews, and many friends. He was preceded in death by his parents and six more siblings.

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