Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
MANKATO, MINNESOTA Unity Riders arrived yesterday at the place where 38 Santee Sioux - or Dakota - men were hung by orders of President Abraham Lincoln on December 26, 1862.
"Forgive Everyone Everything"
Yesterday's event commemorated the 150th anniversary of the largest one-day execution in American history. It is a date etched in the memory of the Dakota and other American Indians.
On December 26, 1862, the day after Christmas, 38 Dakota men and two others were executed. The hangings were the result of the Dakota War of 1862, which was to end of the Dakota people from living in the state of Minnesota. President Abraham Lincoln, the freer of the slaves ironically, ordered their executions.
Some 60 riders on horseback, known as Unity Riders, were there to remember the 38 Dakota men. They were to be joined by several hundred people walking to the site today to commemorate the event. The riders range in age from four year olds to one man who is 77 year old, Chet Eagleman.
The riders begin the morning at about 9 am in Memorial Park getting their horses ready and praying. The ride began at 10 am and proceeded to Reconciliation Memorial Park in downtown Mankato.
The ride began at 10 am and proceeded to Reconciliation Memorial Park in downtown Mankato.
The two mile ride had about a dozen walkers and too many cars to count. They arrived about 10:30 am at Reconciliation Memorial Park. The program featured several speakers. A new public art piece was dedicated in honor of the Dakota 38+2.
Mankato Mayor Eric Anderson was in attendance and read a proclamation declaring 2012 the year of "forgiveness and understanding."
The Unity Riders have used the phrase: "Forgive everyone everything" as a means of healing and reconciliation.
Beginning at midnight, early Wednesday morning, a runner relay began at Ft. Snelling. The runners arrived at about 11:30 am and received many cheers as they ran over the overpass.
Many people stood out in the cold with temperatures hovering in single digits with a slight breeze, but nothing like the ancestors that came before us with no boots, coats, hats or gloves to keep them warm.
A feast was provided by the local community back at the host hotel - the Courtyard Marriott after the ceremony. The room was standing room only. Jerry Darling hosted and many people came up and spoke about their feelings of the weekend. The speakers were male and female, Native and non-Native alike.
The parking lot had vehicles from Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska and Minnesota.
Peg Furshong contributed to this story;
photo credit Peg Furshong;
posted December 27, 2012 7:40 am est