When it comes to honoring their ancestors, a group of riders did not mind the cold, snow or other inclement weather they experienced along the 300-plus miles from Lower Brule, S.D. to Reconciliation Park in Mankato.
The ride honors the 38+2 Dakota Indians who were hanged at the end of the U.S. Dakota Conflict, and the ride is held to find healing and reconciliation from a time of pain for the Dakota people.
“This is a time to show pride in who we are,” said Dave Larsen, who talked about the ride Dec. 21 during a wacipi held on the Lower Sioux community. “We have a good identity as a people. We need to move forward together and not leave people behind.”
The wacipi was held to allow those riders to meet with others in a special gathering to commemorate the past and to focus on the future.
Ceremonies, such as the wacipi, are an important part of the Dakota way of life, as they offer a time of healing for the body, mind and spirit.
People from across the United States and Canada came out to celebrate as part of the wacipi.
Reconciliation and healing can lead to stronger families and a new generation of people who happier and better suited to live in the world today, added another member of the Dakota people who spoke at the wacipi.
The ride is a journey in and of itself, and that journey, like the journey of life, has struggles along the way, such as facing negate 40 degree wind chills. Those struggles and the scars they leave behind are all part of what makes someone who they are.
The group left the Lower Sioux community Dec. 23 heading toward Mankato.
The group then arrived in Mankato and at the site of the hanging on the anniversary of that act – Dec. 26, 1862.
The Dakota 38+2 Ride began in 2008, and the gathering each year is held to remember those who died but also to send the message of healing to the next generation.
The final act of the U.S-Dakota conflict of 1862 did not end with the mass execution of the Dakota. Rather, it continues on for the Dakota as they remember and forgive.
The ride is not about pointing fingers but is one more step toward moving on.