Most Minnesotans may have heard of the Dakota War of 1862, but the vast majority are unaware of the atrocities that took place following the war to forcibly suppress Dakota resistance to colonization and the violation of their treaty rights. On December 26th, 1862, 38 Dakota men were publicly hung in Mankato, Minnesota. This mass execution, ordered by President Abraham Lincoln, is the largest mass execution in U.S. history. Dakota families, primarily women and children, were rounded up in masse and marched to a concentration camp at Fort Snelling in Minneapolis, while Dakota men were sent to a prison camp in Davenport, Iowa.
This December 26th marks the 35th annual Dakota 38 +2 Memorial Run. Late on the evening of December 25th, dozens of runners and supporters will depart from Fort Snelling State Park and journey over 80 miles in the bitter cold, arriving at the Land of Memories Park in Mankato, Minnesota, the morning of December 26th to honor the 38 ancestors who gave their lives so their descendants could live as Dakota. The run also honors two Dakota leaders, Medicine Bottle and Shakopee, who were captured and hung at Fort Snelling on November 11th, 1865.
Šišókaduta (Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate) is one of the lead organizers for the Dakota 38+ 2 memorial run and a Dakota language professor at the University of Minnesota. Šišókaduta believes that is important to remember the lives of those who fought against colonial violence so that their descendants could be here today. “Our ancestors went through times of extreme difficulty. They went through hunger, war, colonization, and assimilation. The 38 Dakota stand as a symbol for all of our people that suffered through those times, and those that continue to suffer today. We remember them every day, not just one day a year,” he said.
In the spring of 1863, Minnesota voided all treaties with the Dakota and passed the Dakota Removal Act, a federal law that makes it illegal for Dakota to live in Minnesota. Although it is no longer enforced, the Dakota Removal Act has never been repealed. Women, children, and elders who were imprisoned in concentration camps at Fort Snelling following the Dakota war were sent to a reservation in Crow Creek, South Dakota. The vast majority of Dakota still live in exile today, in places such as Nebraska and South Dakota. Many Dakota also fled and sought refuge in Canada.
The Run provides a way for Dakota Nations in Minnesota and exiled Dakota Nations to physically connect with the memory of their ancestors. According to Dallas Goldtooth (Bdewakantunwan Dakota and Dine), “the route we take every year does two things — first, it draws a line between the families who were kept at the Fort Snelling concentration camps and the men who were hung in masse in Mankato. Secondly, it retraces some of our oldest trails that crossed our territory since time immemorial, reminding us of the depth of our connection to this land, no matter who currently occupies it. The run also brings us together as family and community – giving us a chance to celebrate life another year.”
The run is also a way for Dakota peoples to retain their cultural and political relationship to their homelands. “Non-Dakota people must understand that Dakota people not only want to remember their ancestors during this run, but that by coming together year after year, singing our songs, praying, and laughing together, we are also actively working to ensure our people thrive into the future, not just as ethnic minorities but rather as the sovereign nations we are,” said Dallas Goldtooth.
Terrie Remick (Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate and Bdewakantunwan Dakota) has brought youth from the Santee Sioux Nation, an exiled Dakota Nation in Nebraska, to participate in the Dakota 38+2 Memorial run in her role as Director of Social Work at the Santee Health and Wellness Center. “It is important that the Išanti Oyate Teča (Santee young people) participate in the run as in doing so they honor the ancestors who gave their lives so that we, their descendants, could remain here today. I believe that when Oyate Teča (young people) know who they are and where they come from, they better understand what their future holds for them,” said Remick. “Each youth who travelled to our ancestral homelands of Mŋišota took their turn in running towards Mankato, finding their own spiritual connection to their ancestors and to the land. I witnessed such special connection to self, song, and the physical act of running,” she added.
The trauma, violence, and exile that Dakota people experienced carried lasting impacts across generations and continues to impact communities today. Keeping the memory of the Dakota 38+2 alive provides an opportunity for healing and reconciliation. The bravery and sacrifice of Dakota ancestors powers every mile of the Memorial run, uplifting the enduring strength of the Dakota people. “What happened to our ancestors in 1862 and the years following not only reminds us of the dangers of white supremacy and colonization, but that their brave actions in the face of such violence remains a part of our lineage today,” said Dallas Goldtooth. “As Dakota Oyate (Nation), today, we are the result of courageous love who never gave up. It is only best that we honor and remember that.”
We remember the 38+2
Tipi-hdo-niche, Forbids His Dwelling
Wyata-tonwan, His People
Taju-xa, Red Otter
Hinhan-shoon-koyag-mani, Walks Clothed in an Owl’s Tail
Maza-bomidu, Iron Blower
Wapa-duta, Scarlet Leaf
Wahena, translation unknown
Sna-mani, Tinkling Walker
Radapinyanke, Rattling Runner
Dowan niye, The Singer
Xunka ska, White Dog
Hepan, family name for a second son
Tunkan icha ta mani, Walks With His Grandfather
Ite duta, Scarlet Face
Amdacha, Broken to Pieces
Hepidan, family name for a third son
Marpiya te najin, Stands on a Cloud (Cut Nose)
Henry Milord (French mixedblood)
Dan Little, Chaska dan, family name for a first son (this may be We-chank-wash-ta-don-pee, who had been pardoned and was mistakenly executed when he answered to a call for “Chaska”
Baptiste Campbell, (French mixed-blood)
Tate kage, Wind Maker
Hapinkpa, Tip of the Horn
Hypolite Auge (French mixedblood)
Nape shuha, Does Not Flee
Wakan tanka, Great Spirit
Tunkan koyag I najin, Stands Clothed with His Grandfather
Maka te najin, Stands Upon Earth
Pazi kuta mani, Walks Prepared to Shoot
Tate hdo dan, Wind Comes Back
Waxicun na, Little Whiteman (this young white man, adopted by the Dakota at an early age and who was acquitted, was hanged, according to the Minnesota Historical Society U.S.-Dakota War website).
Aichaga, To Grow Upon
Ho tan inku, Voice Heard in Returning
Cetan hunka, The Parent Hawk
Had hin hda, To Make a Rattling Noise
Chanka hdo, Near the Woods
Oyate tonwan, The Coming People
Mehu we mea, He Comes for Me
Wakinyan na, Little Thunder
Wakanozanzan and Shakopee: These two chiefs who fled north after the war, were kidnapped from Canada in January 1864 and were tried and convicted in November that year and their executions were approved by President Andrew Johnson (after Lincoln’s assassination) and they were hanged November 11, 1865.
more sponsored content by blue cross and blue shield of minnesota
During Transgender Awareness Week, and on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, a mass shooting took place at Club Q, an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, leaving 5 people dead and dozens injured. The tragedy that occurred at Club Q is part of a growing trend of violence targeting members of the LGBTQ+ community.…
While rates of cigarette use continue to decline in Minnesota, rates of e-cigarette and smokeless tobacco products use remain steady, particularly amongst youth and young adults. As the general public has become more aware of the deadly effects of cigarettes and public health officials and communities have championed anti commercial tobacco policies, the tobacco industry…
How Minneapolis’ Native American Community Clinic increases access to healthcare coverage through community connections
Earlier this year, the Minnesota Department of Health reported significant shifts in the uninsurance rate across the state. The data showed that while the statewide uninsurance rate dropped to a historic low of four percent, the racial coverage gap grew, with 10.2 percent of Indigenous Minnesotans and Minnesotans of color lacking health insurance coverage. Community…