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.

One hundred and fifty four 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.

And on Monday, 60 people on horseback will finish their 300-mile journey from Lower Brule, South Dakota, to Mankato to mark the 12th annual Dakota Wokiksuye Memorial Ride and remember the men who were hanged, according to the Indian Country Media Network.

The ride will finish Monday at Reconciliation Park, where there's a monument dedicated to the 38 men who were hanged on Dec. 26, 1862, the Mankato visitor's page says.

The execution came following the end of the Dakota War of 1862, MPR News said. After the Dakota surrendered, Col. Henry Sibley (who later became the first governor of Minnesota) put together some military men to prove the guilt (or innocence) of the accused Native Americans on their involvement in the war, according to the Minnesota Historical Society.

Originally, 303 men were sentenced to death. Abraham Lincoln narrowed the list to 39, because he felt that the number was too large and could cause further conflict, the historical society reports.

On the morning of Dec. 26, 1862, the 38 men (the 39th was given a reprieve) were hanged on a wooden scaffolding in front of 4,000 people. A drawing of the execution site can be seen here. A couple months later, two men who had fled from Minnesota were found and executed, the Indian Country Media Network says.

Next Up


Wood purportedly from U.S.-Dakota War gallows won't be displayed

The Blue Earth County Historical Society has decided against displaying a piece of timber believed to be part of the gallows used to hang 38 tribal members during the U.S.-Dakota War. That hanging in Mankato was the largest mass execution in U.S. history. The historical society is marking the 150th anniversary of the war. Its director says the group is not trying to hide the timber, it just doesn't have the capacity to display it.