For many, the day after Christmas simply marks the end of a holiday; but for the Dakota community December 26th is a day of heartache, tragedy and remembrance. Wednesday marked the 150th anniversary of the largest mass execution in US history... and it happened right here in Mankato.
Hundreds turned out on a chilly Wednesday for a ceremony remembering the 38 men killed at Mankato's Reconciliation Park.
As sound of drums, and song rang out, dozens of horses rode in ending a several hundred mile journey from South Dakota.
As they filed in, Chief Black Spotted Horse said, "The horses belong to the grandfathers." The grandfathers as Chief Black Spotted Horse knows them... are the 38 Dakota men who were hanged in Mankato on December 26th, 1862.
Young and old sang and prayed. Some even marked the anniversary coming in on foot, running from Fort Snelling.
"It's important as community people to be able to reconcile what has happened," David Brave Heart said. Reconciliation is at the heart of the gathering. "There's still a lot of pain people carry," Brave Heart said.
The U.S.- Dakota War split communities - and while many partnerships have since been formed, a century and a half later there's more work to be done. "We hope to go forward from here," Mankato City Councilman Jack Considine said. A hope to heal wounds and bring communities and cultures together.
A new "Dakota 38" memorial at Reconciliation Park was also dedicated during today's ceremony.