A few days back I had participated in my second inipi since I joined with the Dakota 38 riders. With the exception of the external environment it very similar to a intimate prayer gathering in the home of a friend. Trade the guitar for a drum, but the intent and the prayers are about the same. As we stood out side in the snow, getting ready to go in for a meal I was reflecting on the past days with the riders. I was overwhelmed by the welcome and love I was shown, these men and women could have so many reasons to hate me and what I culturally and socially represent, yet I have been given the honor to be called a brother. I was humbled, I could feel the love of God, the Creator, I could see the forgiveness and grace that Jesus demonstrated.
I began to think of where this ride was headed to; the hanging site in Mankato. The place where my new-found brother’s direct ancestors had been killed, many of them after trials that lasted a few minutes. I know some Minnesotans say, “How can we honor the Dakota 38?” These riders themselves will be the first to tell you that, “Yes, there were horrific acts committed by some Dakota during that short war.” They also declare, “we are here to step up and say we are sorry.” However, many innocent Dakota men went to the gallows that day, and the horrors inflicted on women, children, even the Dakota who never took up arms, is indefensible. All of that tragedy, all the hate, and the generations of suffering that follow to this day, focus back on that moment. December 26, 1862 10 am. We are headed to Mankato to enter into that same place, at that same hour, 150 years later.
I know I would be welcomed by my Dakota sisters and brothers to ride with them into Mankato. However, I do not feel I am worthy nor is it an honor I deserve. As I stood outside that inipi and envisioned the 26th, an image of what seemed appropriate began to appear in my mind. Yes, 150 years ago this place planted deep pain and hate in the hearts of both the Dakota and the Minnesota Settlers. What we do this year can plan seeds for healing and reconciliation. I shared the thoughts I had envisioned with Peter Lengkeek, he encouraged me to speak with Jim Miller the ride founder. A few days later I caught-up with Jim in Washington DC where he had been visiting universities. Here are the suggestions for those wanting to witness and participate in the Ceremony on December 26.
Persons not involved in the memorial ride or run, but desiring to participate, please consider the following:
- DRESS APPROPRIATELY: Wear dark colors as a sign of sorrow with a brightly colored scarf or arm band as a sign of hope. Also remember to arrive early (before 9 am to assure time to park and get into places) but PLEASE: Do NOT crowd around the Buffalo as that area needs to be kept open for the riders.
- WALK in SOLIDARITY: Persons desiring to demonstrate their sorrow for the past and solidarity with the riders should walk behind the horses to the memorial site. Those willing to walk the 2 miles from Land of Memories park may meet there, or fall in line along the way after the riders pass along S. Riverfront Drive. (There is parking in the High School and School and Cub Foods parking lots) If you are unable to walk please wait near the library until after the horses and runners have arrived at the Buffalo.
- RETURN of REMAINS: After the execution of the Dakota Warriors, the graves were raided by local citizens, including the Dr. Mayo. If you have artifacts or bones from the Dakota 38 please bring them (wrapped in cloth and in a box) so they can be returned to family members. If you know of people holding bones or artifacts encourage them to bring them. Official tribal historians will be available to assure the remains are treated properly. Your help in this will be greatly appreciated.
- EAT in COMMUNITY: Bring a Hot Dish or other food to share and join with the riders for a pot-luck meal following the ceremony. Additionally there is a need for people to help with serving of the meal and clean-up afterwards.
- DONATE: The ride has significant costs for transportation, care of the horses and housing of the riders. Donations can be accepted on line or on the day of the event.
It may seem like a different way to spend your vacation, you may feel out of your comfort zone, but you will be welcomed and your presence will be appreciated. We hope to see you around the Stone Buffalo in Mankato on the 26th.