Dakota 38+2 Riders Complete Their Long Journey
It's a journey that began some 330 miles and sixteen days ago, coming to a close at Mankato's Reconciliation Park on a blustery day.
Dozens of riders set off from Lower Brule, South Dakota on a mission to reconcile and bring people together to heal past wounds.
Crow Creek Sioux Tribe Meghan Power said, "It's more about healing for yourself and your community. It's a ceremonial ride, so you're in ceremony this whole time."
Today marks the anniversary of the December 26, 1862 mass execution of 38 Dakota Native Americans, the largest mass execution in U.S. history.
Now, more than 150 years on, the Dakota 38+2 Memorial Ride brings attention to the long-lasting effects of the hanging... bringing together both Natives and non–Natives all the way from California to Canada.
Kehewin Cree Nation Ben Badger said, "I brought down my family, my children, so we wanted to celebrate Christmas in a different meaning, instead of always buying them material good or showing love with plastic. This year we wanted to really embrace the meaning of creating beautiful memories."
For those on the ride, it's a chance to spend time with family, both blood...
Yankton Sioux Tribe Meliah World Turner said, "It means a lot to me because... I adore my family and my culture and my Native ways."
And the new family made along the ride, which can make the last day of the ride that much more difficult.
Dakota 38+2 Rider Johnathan Mann said, "It's enjoyable but it's disappointing because these two weeks feel like it's three months and to us, it's just bittersweet."
And for this 12th annual ride, it has a bit more weight with the events of Standing Rock and the No Dakota Access Pipeline protest not too far away.
Dakota 38+2 Rider Clayton Mann said, "It's a situation that we don't want to pray about, that we didn't wish happened, but we keep praying and we'll pray for Standing Rock until we win."
The "plus two" is for two Sioux leaders who escaped to Canada before they were captured and executed at Fort Snelling in 1865.
--KEYC News 12