New memorial in Mankato marks mass execution after Dakota war

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A somber ceremony in Mankato this week will mark the anniversary of the executions of 38 Dakota men following the U.S. Dakota War of 1862.

The simultaneous hanging is regarded as the largest mass execution in U.S. history. The Mankato Free Press offers this recap of the events of December 26, 1862, and their aftermath.

On Wednesday a contingent of Dakota runners from Fort Snelling and another group arriving from South Dakota on horseback will rendezvous at the site of the hanging, which is now called Reconciliation Park. A memorial bearing the names of the 38 Dakota warriors will be unveiled. A December 26th commemoration has become an annual event, but tribal members tell the Free Press this year's ceremony will be particularly emotional. The 150th anniversary of the war has focused attention on the conflict and its legacy all year.

That attention includes an interactive website put together by the Minnesota Historical Society, which also has a museum exhibit on display at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul.

An older site that takes a comprehensive look at the trial which condemned more than 300 Dakota was compiled by legal scholar Douglas Linder.

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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.