On independent scholars
To the editor:
Three weeks ago, Chris Loetscher looked askance at Curt Dahlin’s title of “Independent historian.” Within the academic community, such writers often merit high esteem. The late Alan Woolworth, an eclectic academic, thoroughly researched the Dakota people and personally returned Little Crow’s remains to them.
As I recall, at the 2011 Northern Great Plains History Conference, his name tag said independent scholar. Franklin’s Jerry Weldy also engages in area history, to include leading tours of the Birch Coulee Battlefield. Curt Dahlin has collaborated with the aforementioned and many others, to include the renowned Minnesota historian William Lass, Professor Emeritus at MSU-Mankato.
Curt’s published works include the hitherto-ignored Dakota Scouts, who did much to limit the ingress of hostiles from the Dakota Territory, thereby allowing authorities to reduce garrisons on the 1863 Minnesota Line. Classically trained or not, good writers research topics exhaustively, make conclusions and present them. Critics must elaborate why they disagree, so maybe Mr. Loetscher can provide examples of Curt’s bias, and where he played “fast and loose with his facts and figures.”
Decades ago, I had a history professor (classically trained and a J.D. to boot) at MSU-Mankato who suggested I develop a preliminary thesis and then, rather than follow scientific methodology, cherry-pick evidence to support it. I nearly quit the program but Bill Lass et al guided me as I earned my M.A. Sadly, too many agenda-driven academics have been writing to fit a narrative, spreading misconceptions and complicating the historiographer’s craft.
Alan R. Koenig
— Alan Koening is president of the Wood Lake Battlefield Preservation Association