Saturday, December 24, 2016

Riding In Remembrance

Dakota 38+2 Wokiksuye Ride Making Its Way to Mankato, Minnesota

Riding in remembrance of the 38, plus 2 who went to their deaths on the orders of Abraham Lincoln. Photo by Greg Greycloud

Published December 24, 2016

MORTON, MINNESOTA – The Dakota 38+2 Wokiksuye Ride is on its last leg of the 2016 ride as it makes its way to Mankato, Minnesota to commemorate the hangings of the 38 Dakota and two others that occurred on December 26, 1862 – one day after Christmas.

On Monday, December 26, 2016, the riders will ride on horseback into downtown Mankato at Land of Memories Park for a ceremony.

The Dakota 38+2 Memorial Ride began in 2005 as a way to promote reconciliation between American Indians and non-Native people. Other goals of the Memorial Ride include: provide healing from historical trauma; remember and honor the 38 + 2 who were hanged; bring awareness of Dakota history and to promote youth rides and healing.

The hangings were the result of the Dakota War of 1862, which terminated the rights of Dakota people from living in Minnesota at that time. President Abraham Lincoln, the freer of the slaves ironically, ordered their executions.

Photo by Lou Fuentes

Photo by Greg Greycloud 

The Memorial Riders began their long journey from the Lower Brule Indian Reservation in South Dakota that covered some 330 miles in frigid cold weather through the Great Plains and then into southern Minnesota.

Above: Dakota 38+2 Memorial Riders making their way to Mankato, Minnesota on Christmas Day 2013. A riderless “spirit horse” representing the ancestors among the Memorial Riders. Photo by Keith Nichols.

"Dakota 38" Running Time 1:18:10

Minnesota’s Revenge: Remembering the 38
by Nick Coleman | Dec 26, 2012 

 One hundred and fifty-three years ago, on the day after Christmas, 1862, Minnesota hanged 38 Dakota Sioux Indian men in the largest act of official execution and bloody revenge in American history, forever staining the new state with a sin of racism and hatred that has reverberated in our state ever since. I’ve been documenting those reverberations for more than 30 years, talking with Indians and historians, trying to explain their significance to racists and politicians, participating in ceremonies meant to promote healing and reconciliation, both of which remain sadly incomplete.

Here are a couple of things I have written over the years, one from the St. Paul Pioneer Press in 1987, at the 125th anniversary of the hanging, the other written in 2012, on the 150th anniversary. Together, they barely scratch the surface of the sadness many Minnesotans feel on this day after Christmas.
— Nick Coleman, Christmas 2015

from 1987…

“Surrounded by infantrymen with bayonets at the ready, the prisoners marched toward the scaffold. As they marched, they broke into Dakota chants, singing death songs and songs of praise to their creator. At the foot of the scaffold, they were met by the Officer of the Day, and were helped up the steps of the gallows by eight soldiers who had been detailed to assist with the execution.

A sea of white faces surrounded them. Some 1,400 soldiers, including 300 mounted troops, were arrayed around the scaffold to keep the crowd back. Spectators stood on roofs, leaned out of windows, sat in trees, lined the streets and even stood on the opposite bank of the Minnesota River, watching.

On the scaffold, the soldiers led the condemned men to their positions, placed the nooses around their necks, adjusted the ropes and pulled the muslin caps over their eyes. As the soldiers left the gallows, the Indians began to sway to the rhythm of their songs and to reach for each other with bound hands. Some managed to grasp the hands of men next to them, others grabbed at each others’ blankets. One stood stoically, still smoking a pipe. 

The gallows swayed with their movements as the Indians began to shout in Dakota, calling out their names to their comrades. Few whites understood the strange litany ringing out over their heads. They were not interested in the names of the 38 warriors. It was a cold morning on the 26th of December and they were waiting fir the roll of a drum.

Still the names came:

Ptan Du-ta, one shouted: Scarlet Otter.
O-ya’-te Ta-wa, another said: His People.
Ma-za Bo-mdu: Iron Blower.
Sun’-ka Ska: White Dog.
Tun-kan’ Ica’-hda Ma-ni: One Who Walks By His Grandfather.
Na-pe’-sni: Fearless.
Wa-kin’-yan-na: Little Thunder..

The names didn’t matter much to a state that wanted vengeance for the victims of the Dakota War that had raged through the Minnesota River frontier that Summer and Fall, and whose governor had declared that all Sioux must die… But they mattered to their families, and their descendants, and they matter now… 

More than 150 years later, the names still ring out in Minnesota on the day after Christmas.

 Mankato Riders 2013

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