Considering the incredible suffering and death caused by the short but bloody U.S.-Dakota war, it is still a piece of history that is mostly unremembered outside southern Minnesota and among the Dakota Indian tribes.
It's a history worth remembering.
That's what Dakota and other Indians will be doing when they ride their horses - and vehicles - into Mankato Friday and Saturday. The fifth annual Dakota 38 Memorial Ride is aimed at honoring the 38 Dakota who were hanged in Mankato on Dec. 26, 1862, following the end of the conflict.
The memorial ride, which began last week in Lower Brule, S.D., closely follows the route Indians were forced to march after the conflict, when they were exiled from Minnesota.
The riders, covering some 60 miles a day, will stop at many of the important sites of the conflict, including the Birch Coulee Battlefield near Morton, Fort Ridgley and Land of Memories Park in Mankato.
Land of Memories is a site of pride, spirituality and happiness for the Dakota - a place where band members from far and wide met in the fall to trade goods, celebrate and renew friendships.
The war was a dark time in history in which both white settlers and Dakota paid a heavy price.
It took more than a century before the pain from the war began to heal enough for a formal reconciliation process between the Dakota and Mankato area residents. In the ensuing years, more awareness of the complex causes and long-term impacts of the conflict have come about.
The memorial ride is a fitting, powerful event that moves those who participate and watch it. And it's one more step in better understanding the past and looking toward the future.
- The Free Press of Mankato
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