Redwood Falls Gazette
  • For the 38+2

  • Later this month, the sixth annual Dakota 38+2 Wokiksuye (Memorial) Horse Ride will pass through the Redwood area, memorializing the 40 Dakota hanged in Mankato on Dec. 26, 1862.Why do the riders travel for more than two weeks in the bitter cold?  Sheldon Peters W...
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  • Nearly a century and a half ago, Dec. 26, 1862 to be exact, 38 Dakota were hanged in Mankato.
    Two years later, two others were also hanged.
    The 38+2 were the “example” for the rest of the tribe as a result of the Dakota Conflict. The men were hanged after being convicted of what the government called “war crimes.”
    After the months-long conflict had come to an end, more than 300 Dakota men were condemned to die and were forced to march from St. Paul to a camp in Mankato.
    More than 1,700 others, soon after the hangings, were shipped from St. Paul to Iowa and then to St. Louis ultimately arriving at Crow Creek, S.D. They had lost their land, loved ones and their identity.
    In 2005, a man named Jim Miller had a dream, and as a result of that dream he felt the call to do something in an effort to remember his ancestors.
    As a result, the first Dakota 38+2 Wokiksuye (Memorial) Horse Ride was held that year.
    From Dec. 10-26, 2005, riders made the journey from South Dakota to Mankato, and every year since the ride has been held.
    So, why do the riders travel for more than two weeks in the bitter cold?
    There are various reasons given by those who choose to participate, whether it is a way to remember their history, to find healing and reconciliation or to offer forgiveness to others, and it is those reasons that keep them going in tough conditions.
    The riders come from all over, said Gabrielle Strong, who helps coordinate the event, adding they come from as far away as parts of Canada.
    Sheldon Peters Wolfchild, who helps get the event started back in 2005, said he felt honored to be able to be part of it.
    “All of us can raise awareness and provide education through this,” Wolfchild said, adding the ride is about love, dignity and re-spect, which he said are important values to the Dakota people.
    Among the riders are several youth, including Gianna Strong, who said this year is going to be her sixth ride.
    “When I started this ride I was not sure what to think,”?she said, but it has become very special to me. I?would not want to spend my Christmas in any other way.”
    Vanessa Goodthunder, who is also riding for the sixth time this December, said the ride has really allowed her to get to know more about her culture and her identity as a member of the Dakota.
    Some are riding for the first time and are not sure what to expect, but said they are willing to go because they believe it is the right thing to do.
    The riders are scheduled to be in this area starting Dec. 19 when they are set to travel from Russell to Vesta. The following day the group is going to be riding from Vesta to Morton, and the group is scheduled to have two days of rest in the Morton area before finishing the ride and arriving in Mankato at the site of the hangings Dec. 26.
    For more information about the ride, contact Darwin Strong at (507)?430-5246. Volunteers are needed in the area to help when the riders arrive later this month.
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