Hundreds of people gathered in Mankato Saturday morning to remember 38 Dakota men who were hanged exactly 153 years ago.
Every year on the anniversary of the hangings – the largest mass execution in U.S. history – people gather to honor Dakota people who lost their lives, forgive Americans for the persecutions, and move forward.
Some traveled 330 miles on horseback on a journey that started weeks ago – the 38+2 Memorial Ride started Dec. 10 at Lower Brule Indian Reservation in central South Dakota.
Others just showed up for the memorial service in Reconciliation Park, according to the Mankato Free Press.
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History of the ride
The memorial ride and service honors Dakota men and women who were either hanged or forced into concentration camps in the 19th century.
Col. Henry Sibley tracked down 303 men accused of killing or assaulting civilians during the Dakota War and sentenced them to be hanged. After reviewing the evidence, President Abraham Lincoln reduced that number to 38 men.
They were hanged in Mankato on Dec. 26, 1862.
The "+2" in 38+2 Memorial Ride refers to two Sioux leaders who were executed at Fort Snelling, KEYC says.
The names of those killed are written on a monument at Reconciliation Park. The monument was dedicated in 2012 to bring "forgiveness and understanding," according to the Mankato Free Press.
To learn more, you can watch this documentary.