Culminating Project Title
Date of Award
Culminating Project Type
Special Studies: M.A.
College of Liberal Arts
Edgar A. Bavery
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Keywords and Subject Headings
The Gold in the Hill is a historical fiction novel for juveniles, written to entertain, inform, and change attitudes.
The setting is Minnesota in the wake of the Dakota Conflict. The principal characters are David Hughes, a mixed-blood boy, and Good Singer, a Dakota boy. Through the eyes of these two 14-year-olds, young readers should understand the clash of cultures that killed more than 500 whites and caused the death or exile of nearly every Dakota.
David and Good Singer meet in the Dakota refugee camp below Fort Snelling in the fall of 1862. They develop a relationship based on mutual need. David seeks friendship, escape and adventure. Good Singer realizes his family's survival may depend upon David's help. The story climaxes with a nighttime journey to Scott County, where Good Singer and David dig for buried gold coins.
The Gold in the Hill should inform adolescent readers. The setting includes political and natural geographic features, as well as Minnesota flora and fauna. Through Good Singer young readers learn about Dakota language and culture. Saloon owner Abram Felsenthal tells of a pogrom in Prussia and a financial panic in St. Paul. Catherine Hughes' point of view presages the 20th century concept of cultural relativity.
Anti-Indian attitudes are Minnesota's most pervasive race-relations problem. Young readers should be repelled by the ethnocentrism, racism and cultural oppression evident throughout the novel. The Gold in the Hill is intended to help young readers appreciate all cultures, past and present, particularly that of the Santee Dakota.
Wood, Jeffrey Clark, "The Gold in the Hill" (1995). Culminating Projects in History. 5.