Skip to main content

In memory of the largest execution in US history, Dakota riders travel to Mankato

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

One hundred and fifty two years ago today, 38 Dakota people were hanged in Mankato as punishment for crimes U.S. authorities said they committed during the Dakota War.

It remains the largest mass execution in U.S. history.

Friday morning, on the 152nd anniversary of the killings, dozens of runners and horseback riders arrived at the site of the tragedy to remember those lives lost.

Riders from SD, runners from Fort Snelling

Two groups arrived at Reconciliation Park Friday morning, the Mankato Free Press says.

One is a group of memorial riders, on horseback, who left the Lower Brule Indian Reservation in South Dakota on Dec. 9, Native News Online reports. The journey took them more than 300 miles, and in the front row is a riderless black "spirit horse," who represents those who have died – both in the past year, and during the 1862 hangings.

The journey is known as the Dakota Wokiksuye Memorial Ride, but is also referred to as the Dakota 38+2 Memorial Ride. It began in 2005.

During this year's trip, a woman died after falling off her mule and hitting her head, KEYC reports. Her cause of death was listed as epilepsy.

This embed is invalid

The other group is a collection of dozens of runners, who left Fort Snelling at midnight and traveled the 100-mile journey to Mankato in relay fashion, MPR reports.

The executions

The Dakota were hanged after a monthslong review process by Col. Henry Sibley, who was tasked with tracking down those who killed or assaulted civilians during the summer of 1862 and the U.S.-Dakota War, Fort Snelling says.

Sibley, at the end of his operation, actually recommended 303 Dakota people be executed. But President Abraham Lincoln reviewed the cases and cut the number to 39. One more was saved prior to the hangings because of "questionable testimony," Fort Snelling explains.

The New York Times reported on the event in the lead-up, writing about the "Sioux Indian murderers" set to be hanged at 10 a.m. At the time, officials in Minnesota were worried that white settlers in the Mankato area – many of whom were expected to gather to watch the executions – would form a mob and try to kill the "wretched savages" themselves.

They wrote about the aftermath as well, which the Star Tribune published for reading last year.

The names of those who were killed are written on a 12-foot-high monument at Reconciliation Park. It was dedicated two years ago, the Mankato Free Press says, and at the ceremony Dakota/Lakota leader Looking Horse said, “Today, being here to witness a great gathering, we have peace in our hearts — a new beginning of healing.”

You can read more about the killings, and look at official documents, at the U.S.-Dakota War website.

MPR News produced a documentary about the U.S.-Dakota War on its 150th anniversary in 2012, called "Little War on the Prairie."

Next Up

Concert

No Jingle Ball this year? Twin Cities left off iHeartRadio holiday tour

The annual touring event usually visits the Xcel Energy Center.

Target store

Target gives first look at some of its Deal Days discounts

The Minneapolis retailer is holding its Deal Days event earlier than ever, in an attempt to drive sales after a turbulent year.

Screen Shot 2022-10-03 at 11.03.12 AM

Man dies after crashing truck into western Wisconsin lake

The victim was unable to make it to shore despite being able to get out of his truck.

ATV, all-terrain vehicle

Sheriff: Man who didn't return to campsite died in ATV crash

It happened at the Foothills State Forest and Spider Lake ATV Recreation Area

Richard Liu, aka Liu Qiangdong

Chinese billionaire settles lawsuit over alleged rape in Minneapolis

The tech billionaire was accused of sexually assaulting a University of Minnesota student in 2018.

US Navy Flickr - COVID hospital PPE nurse

Frontline worker payments: Over a million Minnesotans to get $487.45

Gov. Tim Walz says the payments will start going out on Wednesday.

19050650853_a4a6377429_k

Ed Sheeran to bring North America stadium tour to Minneapolis

It's the second show announced for the Vikings stadium in 2023.

Kim Crockett

GOP candidate Kim Crockett won't commit to accepting election result

Crockett has been a proponent of conspiracy theories regarding the 2020 presidential election.

Screen Shot 2022-10-01 at 9.41.39 AM

Charges: Man carjacked father, daughter as they loaded groceries outside Cub

The father grappled with the suspect after he had pointed a gun at his daughter.

Screen Shot 2022-10-02 at 8.25.27 PM

Pilot, brother and sister killed when plane crashed into house are ID'd

The plane crashed into a house in Hermantown, Minnesota.

Screen Shot 2022-10-02 at 7.18.52 PM

Rolled semi, livestock on freeway interchange in Woodbury

Traffic cameras showed what appeared to be hogs on the side of the road.

Eric Reinbold

Reinbold guilty of murdering wife with 'particular cruelty'

Eric Reinbold, 46, was convicted of two counts of murder in the second degree in Pennington County Friday.

Related

300-mile ride commemorating largest mass execution in U.S. history ends in Mankato

The annual memorial ride ends in Mankato, at the site of the mass execution of 38 Dakota men.