150 Years After America’s Largest Mass Execution, the Quest for Healing Continues

Dec 27





I took this video as about 100 Dakota Indian riders arrived in Mankato, MN on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, to honor the 38 Dakota warriors hanged in Mankato 150 years earlier — Dec. 26, 1862 — in America’s largest mass execution. The riders began their arduous 340-mile journey on Dec. 10 at Lower Brule, South Dakota and arrived in Mankato to traditional shouts and whoops of welcome.

You can find the story I wrote about the commemoration at www.theuptake.org.
Click here to see it.

The honor riders arrive in Mankato. This photo is by Caroline Yang, who has a slide show of photos from the commemoration up on www.theuptake.org. Click here to go there!

I took this photo on Hwy. 169 as a lone Dakota Indian runner headed up the Minnesota River towards Mankato at dawn on Wednesday.The annual relay run to honor the 38 Dakota warriors hanged in Mankato on the day after Christmas in 1862 began at Fort Snelling at Midnight on Christmas Day, continuing for 90 miles and almost 11 hours through single-digit temperatures until the runners arrived at the ceremony in Mankato marking the execution. CLICK on the photo to see a larger sized version.

I saw this guy waiting for the two-hour ceremony to begin. He didn’t say anything to me, but he didn’t have to: He let his jacket do the talking. The names of the 38 warriors who were hanged are printed on the feathers on his jacket.

Below: A snippet of an honor song sung by the Maza Kute Singers from the Santee Reservation in Nebraska. I wanted to take more video but my smart phone froze in the 5-degree temperature. I froze, too. But the drummers and singers, like the riders, seemed unfazed by the cold.

The names of all 38 warriors hanged on Dec. 26, 1862, are written on a 12-foot-high monument (I’m estimating) that was dedicated on Wednesday in Mankato’s “Reconciliation Park,” a small area of markers and sculptures devoted to remembering America’s largest mass execution, which is believed to have taken place somewhere in the immediate vicinity.