chippewa-riverA delightful walk through the Ambush Park Trails and a crackling campfire in Ambush Park make for a soothing place to camp. Years ago the park was not so peaceful. Ambush Park was named for the site of a massacre between the Chippewa and Sioux Indians, which took place on the present site of Ambush Park.

Early in April of 1838 a number of Sioux Hunters left their settlement at Lac Qui Parle with women and children and started their annual hunt up the Cheppewa River Valley. Accompanying the group was the missionary, Gideon Pond. When the hunting party reached the forks of the Chippewa River on the second day, presently where the Benson Golf Club lies, it was found to be flooded due to the spring thaw. Tatemina (Round Wind) who had established a camp on the far side, spent most of the afternoon ferrying the hunters over the water to find shelter with him and his wife.

For a week or more the hunters traveled through the region to the north finding little to sustain them because of the sudden drop in temperatures. Three lodges consisting fo women and children had been left to establish an encampment. One evening a group of nine Chippewa Indians, led by Hole-In The-Day, the Gull River Chippewa Chief, approched the lodges assuring the women that their intentions were most peaceful. They were wlecomed kindly by the Sioux Women who prepared a real Indian feast for them. Lodging for the night was also hospitibly offered and accepted.

But soon after the unsuspecting group had fallen asleep the nine Chippewa Indians arouse and brutally killed young and old. A girl was led away captive. A woman and boy were wounded and managed to conceal themselves behind a tree where they watched until daylight. Making a litter for the wounded boy and her scalped infant by fastening two poles to a horse, which had been left behind, the grief stricken woman hastened to search for the hunters. Returning to the scene of the massacre, they dug a common grave with a hoe and clamshell where they buried the seven mutilated bodies of their comrades. Vengeance, which the survivors vowed they would get, was attained at the terrible Rum River battle two years later when 70 Chippewa Indians paid with their lives.

Historical Landmarks

If it's History you're interested in... Here are some ideas.

  • Ambush Park
  • Original Benson Schoolhouse
  • Swift County Courthouse
  • St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church
  • Swift County Historical Society

Swift County Courthouse


The Swift County Courthouse, built in 1898 is on the National Register of Historic Places.