Dakota 38+2 Memorial Riders making their way to Mankato, Minnesota on Christmas Day. A riderless “spirit horse” representing the ancestors among the Memorial Riders.
MANKATO, MINNESOTA – The Dakota 38+2 Memorial Ride arrived at the Land of Memories Park, just west of Mankato, Minnesota off of Highway 169 on Christmas afternoon.
The Memorial Riders began their long journey from the Lower Brule Indian Reservation in South Dakota on Monday, December 9, 2013 that covered some 330 miles in frigid cold weather through the Great Plains and then into southern Minnesota.
The temperatures were in single digits on Christmas Day, but climbed to 17 degrees for a high. The Memorial Riders rode 20 miles from Courtland, Minnesota on Christmas.
Arriving in Mankato
The Dakota 38+2 Memorial Ride began in 2005 as a way to promote reconciliation between American Indians and non-Native people. Other goals of the Memorial Ride include: provide healing from historical trauma; remember and honor the 38 + 2 who were hanged; bring awareness of Dakota history and to promote youth rides and healing.
The hangings were the result of the Dakota War of 1862, which terminated the rights of Dakota people from living in Minnesota at that time. President Abraham Lincoln, the freer of the slaves ironically, ordered their executions that happened one day after Christmas in 1862.
Among the Memorial Riders in front row was a riderless black horse that referred to as the “spirit horse” because it represents the ancestors who have walked on during the past year. “On another level, the spirit horse also represents those who died in during the executions — the 38 Dakota and two others who died that day,” according to Matthew Black Eagle Man, a Dakota from the Long Plain First Nation in Mantoba, Canada aand a Memorial Rider, who now lives in Kentucky.
On Thursday, December 26, the Memorial Riders will leave Land of Memories Park at 8:30 am, CST and will arrive at Reconciliation Memorial Park in downtown Mankato at approximately 10:00. The ceremony will begin shortly thereafter.
The Memorial Riders are being served a Christmas dinner at the United Methodist Church in Mankato tonight.
PHOTOS Courtesy: Keith Nichols
UPDATED: December 25, 2013, 11:00 p.m. -EST