Opinion

Waziyatawi: Dakota people won't forget hangings at Mankato





"The Idle No More campaign is in full-swing to the north, and Dakota people associated with the 38+2 memorial horse ride have apparently abandoned the struggle for justice for Indigenous people here with the promotion of their mantra “forgive everyone everything.” That feel-good slogan will be literally etched in stone on benches that will be placed around a new memorial in Mankato, Minnesota next summer.

This emphasis on reconciliation at the site of the largest mass hanging from one gallows in world history (yes, it used to be listed as a Guinness World Record) illuminates a deep split within the Dakota population that remains 150 years later.

Not all Dakota people are eager to offer forgiveness to the occupiers of our homeland. The crimes of genocide, ethnic cleansing and land theft are too great for time alone to heal. Furthermore, the injustices continue through the ongoing occupation of our homeland, the diaspora and exile of our people, the denial of our rights to religious freedom including access to sacred sites, the lack of access to traditional foods, the theft of our children, the mass incarceration of our population, the imposition of colonial systems and institutions on every aspect of our lives and the daily exploitation and destruction of our homeland. In 1862, Dakota warriors fought to defend our land, our people and our way of life. Thirty-eight of them were hanged in 1862 as a consequence of their resistance to occupation and two more were hanged in 1865. But the struggles remain the same today and we are still in need of warriors to achieve justice and liberation for our people."

Get the Story:
Waziyatawin: Co-Opting the Memory of the Dakota 38 2 (Indian Country Today 1/1)