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Historic Sites of Manitoba: Flee Island Entrenchments (RM of Portage la Prairie)

The eastern Dakota (Sioux) of Minnesota traditionally built ćunkaśke (pronounced “choonkashkay”)—wooden palisades, piles of stones and earthen entrenchments—around their camps and villages for protection against the elements, wild animals, and potential enemies. One group was even referred to as the Cunkasketonwan: Nation of the Forts.

In the summer of 1862, many Dakota openly rebelled against the intolerable treatment they had received from American authorities. As a result, several hundred moved north to the relative safety of the Red River Settlement. In the spring of 1864, following an attack by Chippewa bounty hunters from Minnesota, the Dakota constructed fortified camps in the Portage la Prairie district. Each camp was enclosed by a circular trench and embankment behind which armed defenders could position themselves. Inside this circle was a ring of pits where the women and children could take refuge in the event of an attack. The remnants of one such ćunkaśke, known as the Flee Island Entrenchment, are located in the area near a marker at this site.

Designated a provincial historic site in 1954, a commemorative monument was erected here in 1991 by the Manitoba Heritage Council.

Flee Island Entrenchments

Flee Island Entrenchments (April 2010)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Flee Island Entrenchments commemorative plaque

Flee Island Entrenchments commemorative plaque (April 2010)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Flee Island Entrenchments commemorative plaque

Flee Island Entrenchments commemorative plaque (September 2023)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N50.10549, W98.15575
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: St. Ambroise Entrenchments (RM of Portage la Prairie)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Flee Island School No. 527 (RM of Portage la Prairie)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Abandoned Manitoba

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Provincially Designated Historic Sites

Flee Island Dakota Entrenchment, Manitoba Historic Resources Branch


This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 4 September 2023

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