MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - ”Looks to the history, the real history of Mankato. Learns and understands why there is not a large indigenous population here in Mankato,” Indigenous Peoples Day Committee president, Megan Schnitker said.
Mankato is rich in history, but especially Dakota history.
History you can see in places like Reconciliation Park, the Winter Warrior, Land of Memories Park and Heritage Hall.
Along with the statues, buildings and parks, there are also the local colleges that are helping to keep the Dakota language alive.
“I have a former student from upper Sioux, who has learned the language herself. So, she comes and actually helps out in the class, so you know we have an actual Dakota person enrolled who has learned the language. Kind of, give us that help with the language and students really enjoy learning it. For no other reason, then understanding the important place names around our area and how they have Dakota roots,” South Central College American Indian Studies instructor, Dr. Amy Magnus said.
At South Central College, there are two courses that are offered.
Native American Perspectives and Dakota Culture, History and Language.
What a lot of people may not know is that the Dakota language has three sub languages, Dakota, Lakota and Nakota.
The Dakota and Lakota languages are actually very similar.
These classes are a lot more vital than people think.
“You know, this is another reason for the class, where we are losing these languages as the older generations pass away. You know, you need money and resources to keep educating both the tribe and other people in this language,” Magnus said.
These classes are so important, because they show the community the vast culture that called this region home.
A big part of that remembrance is the annual Dakota 38 ride, a week-long ride that starts on Dec. 9 and goes until the 26.
The ride starts in South Dakota and ends in Mankato as a way to honor 38 Dakota who were hung in 1862.
This event offers more education than any textbook could.
“Comes to participating in person, that is all there and it lacks in books and watching videos online. You don’t get to feel and see the emotions, taste the food or you know. I think participating in-person is really important for people,” Schnitker said.
Due to COVID-19 this year’s Ride was canceled, but that doesn’t mean people won’t be taking this time to honor and educate themselves.
“There are YouTube videos from previous years we will be watching and there are educational pieces that my kids will be watching during that day,” Schnitker said.
Finding a new way to pass on knowledge.