Group of Dakota start 330 mile journey to remember mass execution

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It's been almost 153 years since the largest mass execution in U.S history.

Dec. 26, 1862, dozens of Dakota men were hanged in Mankato for crimes U.S. authorities say they committed during the Dakota War.

On Thursday, Dakota people gathered in Lower Brule Indian Reservation – in central South Dakota – to begin their 330-mile trek in remembrance of the men and woman who were hanged or forced into concentration camps, Indian Country Today reports. 

According to Native Sun News, the ride finishes in Reconciliation Park in Mankato on Dec. 26, the anniversary of the hanging.

History of the march

The 38+2 Memorial Ride starting in 2005 when Jim Miller – a descendant of Dakotas who were displaced in 1862 – dreamed of bringing Dakota people together in a horseback ride, according to Sunktanka Wicayuhapi horse program.

The program says the December ride represents the journey men, women and children had to make in 1862 to either be hanged in Mankato or forced into camps at Fort Snelling.

The largest execution

The Dakota were hanged after Col. Henry Sibley tracked down those accused of killing or assaulting civilians during the summer of 1862 and the U.S. Dakota War, according to the Minnesota Historical Society.

The society says Sibley originally sentenced 303 men to death, but President Abraham Lincoln reduced the number to 39 after reviewing evidence. One more man was saved right before the execution, the society reports.

The names of those killed are written on a monument at Reconciliation Park. The monument was dedicated in 2012 to bring "forgiveness and understanding," the Mankato Free Press reports. 

To learn more about the event, you can watch this documentary:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pX6FBSUyQI

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