These riders they come from all over. Canada,
Montana, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota. There’s even a guy here from Austria. It’s from all over the world these riders come. And that’s the point. That’s what we’re trying to do here is we’re trying to reconcile, unite, make peace with everyone. Because that’s what it means to be Dakota. To be Dakota means to walk in peace and harmony with every living thing. That is our way. This ride came through a vision of a man by the name of Jim Miller. And in that vision he saw riders going east. We were going home. That’s what we’re doing is we’re going home. In 2005, when I received this dream, as any recovered alcoholic I made believe that I didn’t get it. I tried to put it out of my mind, but it was one of those dreams that bothers you night and day. “St. Paul Pioneer Press, 1862. Good news for Indian Hunters. The Indian hunting trade, if the game be at all plenty, is likely to prove a profitable investment, during the present fall and winter for our hunters and scouts in the big woods, having increased the bounty for each top-knot of a ‘bloody heathen’ to $200. There is likely to be considerable competition in the trade, and the best shots will carry off the most prizes.” With settlers encroaching on us, they pushed us onto a little bitty strip of land along the river. All of our people were put there and were not allowed to leave or hunt. The Indians could not leave the reservation. If they left without permission they would be considered hostile and could be shot on sight. They were supposed to be given rations, given the treaty, but people get greedy, that’s why they called them Wasi’chu. They started skimming off the rations and pretty soon they were starving them. When they were starving them that’s when this trader said, “Well let them eat grass.” And so they revolted and a fight occurred and many were killed. It was a very short war. It only lasted a few months. When it was over, President Abraham Lincoln hung 38 of our leaders at one time, one pull of the lever. Which is today the largest mass execution the government has ever carried out. My great-great grandfather, “Walks with Owl Tail” was hung that day. Those of us that are on this ride descend from those 38 that were hanged. You know we’ll never be able to feel what he felt.
But we understand he was a spiritual man and he cared a lot about his people, and I think if he was alive we would have done the same thing. He would have wanted to acknowledge the ancestors
in a spiritual way. When I heard about this dream, Uncle Sheldon Wolfchild, he told me this dream that Jim had, and I wanted to be a part of it. There’s something about that ride that pulls you to it, and you want to get on a horse and help out. You feel pain in your ribs, your back, your legs. You get cold, we’ve been through blizzards. A lot of times, if you don’t own a horse you end up on the horse that nobody wants to ride, so that’s a sacrifice in itself. I just want to tell everybody here that I love you very much. We don’t have to blame the Wasi’chus anymore. We’re doing it to ourselves. We’re selling drugs. We’re killing our own people. That’s what this ride is about is healing. We were exiled from Minnesota by an order of the government, which stated to annihilate the Indian race or forever push us from the borders of Minnesota.
And that’s what happened. Thousands and thousands of our people were slaughtered, froze to death, starved to death, disease took a lot of our people as well. A lot of them were marched on foot, some were brought on cattle trains. Got down to St. Louis they put us on riverboats, and they were brought up the river to where we presently are now at Crow Creek. Which was at that time a prisoner of war camp. From there our people scattered to the four directions. Some of them would jump off the boats and just drown themselves, and they couldn’t deal with the hardships. It was a horrible thing. They thought it was the end of their world coming here, they had no more hope. And so for us this journey back, this ride back is taking their spirits back. Taking it home to the homeland. And we’re going to show up in Mankato at the hanging site on December 26th, at 10:00 AM. Which is the anniversary of them 38 that were hanged. When you have dreams, you know when they come from the creator. You just know it. And I always know when it’s a significant dream because he says, “I gotta tell you this.” And so he gets up and says, “I gotta tell you this, and I don’t know what it means but…” And he started telling me. He was being directed to make these offerings around the horse. The horse would carry these offerings And that these offerings were for all of the men that were hung in Mankato. Didn’t know about Mankato until I had this dream in 2005. In his dream he saw all of the 38 basically, being hung at the same time. And they were all reaching out holding each other’s arms. Our ancestry starts over there in Mankato. So keep that in your hearts, keep that in your minds as we travel. So I love you guys very much. I’m a real easy man to talk to. I’m kind of a quiet guy. I pretty much keep to myself. But any atrocity that happened to any of you, it happened to me. I was sexually abused, physically abused, spiritually abused, emotionally abused. I have blood on my hands, I’m a Vietnam Veteran. I spent time in Leavenworth. So, I’ve been through the course. Any of you need to talk with me call me aside. We’re all equal in this room. Nobody is higher or better than anybody. We’re all equal. So let’s have a real beautiful ride. We’ve got a long haul ahead of us, I’ve never done this before. I don’t know what to expect in the next sixteen days, but you do, you’re my family. Aho hecetu alo, Mitakuye Oyasin. This horse has the six directions that we use in our ceremonies. The two front legs represent the west and the north. The two back legs represent the east and the south. The head points up, the ears point up, represents Wakatakiya, up above. The tail points downwards, towards mother earth. When you put those six directions together it creates a sacred center to bring Wowakan in. It’s a sacredness that you can only have with these six directions. And you can pray while you’re on your horse. You can think about a lot of things. Some people can remember things that ancestors went through. It’s the horse leading the way because of its healing power. It feels good to walk in their steps and be on the land where they were. It’s just a completely different energy around here. I feel it. I feel like a different person now that I came here. Today we ride because of a healing that we need to continue. The reservation where I’m from is the poorest county in the United States with an average household income of $5,000 per year. We also have one of the highest suicide rates in the world. There is something that we suffer from. So basically I’m riding for my family, because they need help. I already lost my oldest brother. He passed away four years ago. And two of my other brothers are sitting in jail. My family is slowly falling apart, and this is why I’m doing this for them. And now my little brother he’s getting sent away. I’m wanting to go see him before he gets sent away next year, but I came here, and I don’t regret coming here. All I can say is that I’m honored to be on this ride, and I thank you for listening to me. It’s just not for our Dakota people but everybody involved. So if you have horses or you want to be part of the ride come join us. This is our family and we want you guys to be a part of it. Thank you. I didn’t know about Mankato, like 38 Native Americans were hung there. I had no idea about that. I’m not Native American but my Mom’s Native Canadian
so having a little bit of that in me and hearing this, It really means a lot. Thank you. Yeah it was pretty good talking with them. You know letting them know our side of the story. And not what just came out of some book that some dude wrote. You know coming from the real thing and from the people that are experiencing it. Yeah it was pretty good. It’s a pretty good ride man. In spite of the burnt burger and the doughy pizza. No that was just the doughy pizza. And I really don’t associate with Caucasian people. I don’t know why it’s just… I used to when I was little. I had like different races of friends when I was little. We might as well just put it on the table too because it’s the truth, and it’s the only way that we’re going to be able to come together. You know like my people and me, and we’ve talked about this, there’s a lot of racism. And I’m willing to say, yeah I have some racist moments where I think, “Oh okay, they just did that because they’re a white guy or they’re not going to get it because they’re white, they’re just not.” I was feeling like I didn’t want to be a part of this anymore because I was feeling like everybody was talking to me as like Dakota Sarah. Like, “Oh well you’re Dakota first. So I’m going to ask everything, all my questions, based on your race.” You have to understand there’s a certain amount of curiosity coming into a situation. If someone from Africa came to me they would have a million questions about Adam the white guy, the Italian kid from Long Island. So the fact that the questions are getting directed at me, makes me feel like, “Oh, Adam was the only one who was asking questions, the only one who didn’t come from the heart. We’re supposed to be getting a storm here the next couple days. It’ll be real cold. Real cold. Forecast this morning said, “Saturday, Sunday, Monday, blizzard warnings.” Not much to say. Yeah. I think some of the things that they’re doing, like this ride, are important for their heritage. I think all people should be proud of who they are and their ancestry and their heritage. I’m proud I’m Norwegian. Golden rims. I got pimped out here by Mark. Does she know the price in there, how much the tire was? Hey, just don’t worry about it. Oh come on now, I gotta give you something. Don’t worry about it. I appreciate it. I really appreciate it. I wouldn’t be so generous, but I just watched that movie “Pay It Forward.” I wish more of this country was that way. It needs to go back to that. We’ve got too many people that are worried about the dollar instead of helping the human being. Exactly. I’m getting beckoned I better go. Just fill that up and I’ll come back out and shut that water off. Okay. Extreme conditions for much of the west as we go through the next several days. Lets get into this. Bitterly cold arctic air, don’t forget there will be a wind chill factor up in through here. I’m running behind you. See you up there. Some people have moved their horses here already. This isn’t where the horses are supposed to be tonight. We didn’t get permission to do that. Well they accept us. This, Jim, Jim ah… He’s the county extension agent that I’ve been talking to. So he’s here? He was here, he gave me this key to water and… Okay that’s good enough for me. Come on. Come on. Okay, I’ll get some snacks together and stuff. Oh that would be so awesome. They would love that. Okay sure. And it made me feel uncomfortable because, like in the back of my head, I always think, “They’re probably uncomfortable with all of us in here. Don’t trust us too much or something.” I don’t know that’s just how I grew up. How much did you ride today man? About, I don’t know, 30, 40 miles. How are you feeling? Sore. What do you guys think of the horses? They’re nice but they hurt your butts. They hurt your butts. Yeah? Are you recording it? Yeah man, you’re on tape. Hi. Say hi world. Can I ride it? How can you get up? Just jump on. I sure can’t. Sorry. I’m not big enough to. Here jump on the trailer. For me, I love each of you. These little guys here, we’re doing that for them. Our culture is one of oral. Everything’s passed down to us. Riding across there today I was crying coming. I wonder what my relatives endured when they came down on the boat. When we were taken off the boat, our first homeland in 1863 was a stockade. When Sitting Bull heard about that as a young man, he came on horseback to see how the people were being treated. And they were being treated worse than animals he said. And that’s why he stood his ground like that. These people called me today. There were two ceremonies that were going on back home called Yuwipis. They said that Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull are riding with us. That means a lot to me. I went out with a regular pair of gloves and was out there about fifteen minutes, and my hands started to get frostbite. I saw the weather report and it said 45 below, 50 mph winds, and said you’re taking your life into your own hands if you’re on the road. Anybody here got extra grain? Wait until noon. You know 12:00, and let’s see what the weather looks like then. The last time I walked with men and women like this I was in the Marine Corps. Yesterday, you know that bad blizzard? These riders wanted to go. They saddled up, they warmed their horses up, we couldn’t even see fifty yards. Cold. They still wanted to ride to make this trip. That’s how important this is to us. So if you don’t mind we’re just going to wait this out. Yeah and if it gets really bad we’ve got that Quonset. We can put the horses in there. There’s quite a bit of room in there. Can we take a look? Yeah. So lets get some panels and panel this off. We got the horses in the Quonset and so I came back home. And then I’d say it was like 4:00 or something. Yeah it was late afternoon, yeah when Jerry called, and said, “Where can we go to buy hay, because the horses need hay?” “You know I don’t know where I’d send you. I know a lot of guys that have got hay, but I don’t think you can get there.” But I said, “Why don’t I try.” When he came back to the door and he was all full of snow and I said, “What happened?” And he said, “We’ve got to get the tractor going because I’m stuck up here in the ditch.” He said, “I didn’t even make the corner.” I thought, “Oh my gosh, if it’s that bad why are you even out?” She gets me out and I tell her, “You just need to take the tractor and go home.” And I take off west and It’s terrible. Again, I can’t see anything, there are drifts on the road, and all of a sudden I’m right in the ditch again. And this is over a mile from home. And he called me and he said, “How are you doing?” ÄAnd I said, “Not very good right now. I’m in a ditch.” He said, “What?” I said, “Yup, I ran into a ditch trying to get to town.”ÜÑ That’s crazy man. I never really thought of those people doing something like that. She went out in a tractor and found him somehow in that blizzard. You almost can’t top that as far as support or commitment to what we’re doing. Do we have any Choctaws in the house? Follow me. Whenever I’m away from you I always get these lovesick blues. Never ever leave me and I will never leave you. Look they’re taking off. Holy, all my brothers. We come with a message of forgiveness and healing, and we’ve all got to share this planet together. And that’s the purpose of your ride, is to have some reconciliation? You think that’s already happening maybe in some ways? Oh, no doubt. We had an outpouring of support and love at Wessington Springs and at Howard. So I give my blessings to them and we pray for them. Well thank you very much. We appreciate it. That was wonderful. Thanks a lot. That was good. You really did a good job. Thank you. I love you guys and you guys have a good day. Oh, you as well. We’ll be around, we’ve got lots of good pictures to get here today. Okay, thank you. Have a safe ride. You bet, I will. Yeah, this was awesome. To hear someone who is not angry at all and says, “This is about forgiveness.” I was like, “Wow.” It’s not what I expected. There’s a lot of racism in this state. There are a lot of people that are against Native Americans and kind of don’t make any bones about it. It’s okay to be who you are. You’re Native, and you should be proud of it no matter what tribe you’re from. Get to know your history. Because we are an awesome people and you guys should be so proud of that. And I was in an 8×5 cell and it was hard. It was really hard. I shed some tears in there. They say men don’t cry, but we do. It takes a real man to cry. (Applause) Thank you. The reason why I’m doing this journey is so I can maybe help one of you in this room today. Because our people are lost and it’s up to us to keep our language and our culture alive. We have to be the leaders because we’re the next generation and it’s up to us. If not, our culture is gone, our language is gone and the wakanyeja, the youth, the next generation they will be lost. They will have nothing to turn to. On November 26th, I celebrated a year. Drugs and alcohol you know, and I ain’t gonna lie, sometimes I feel like using. I get around my old buddies back home, and they say, “Come on have a beer with us. Let’s go get high, I got this joint.” But I choose to pray and go to sweat lodges. During the summer time we attend sundances. It’s hard growing up where I’m from. Pine Ridge is a hard place to live. They call it poverty plains, but we choose to live like that. Now me riding is to hopefully make a change for our youth, so that they won’t have to grow up in the society that we grow up in today. Any suggestions from back here boys? I’ll step out here. My main concern is like, (cell phone rings) Must be from Canada. Again from my family from here, it’s good to see everybody in, and my main thing was to see you guys laughing, fed, and all that stuff like that. So I extend my thanks. When you guys were coming over this hill down here by this little town, Egan, that was what I got afraid of. Man, these semis on 34. They’re going to come flying over and it’s cold and icy. So I just stayed up there, and if I see a vehicle try and slow them down. This is the lady right here, this is Steph. She’s been really great in coordinating so much of the food, the help, the whole works. She’s been fantastic. I had food coming all morning to my house. My truck was loaded. ûYeah there was not even a question. As soon as we heard about it, we got the email, we responded back right away and said, “Yeah count us in. We’ll help out.”ÜÑ When they marched the 38 to be hung, you know they marched them to Mankato, and after they hung them they buried them in a mass grave, and the doctors from the local area, they dug up the bodies and used them for science. So when we learn that history then it’s really hard. I own the land back here, and I was just curious what was going on. I’d seen all the trailers here. I grew up in Minnesota, and I had no idea that there had been a hanging of 38 warriors. And then the boarding schools of course, to try to turn all the Indians into white people. Their spiritual ceremonies were illegal until 1978. Maybe U.S. white America will reach, or maybe is reaching, the point where they can start acknowledging what really happened in this country. They can acknowledge the massive land theft, 3 billion acres within the continental United States. Maybe they can acknowledge the broken treaties. Over 400 of them broken and violated by the United States of America and its U.S. Euro-American citizenry. Maybe they can acknowledge the genocide that occurred. 16 Million Native people within the continental United States around 1500. And by four centuries later, 1900, the U.S. Bureau of Census said there was 237,000 left in the U.S.. What happened? It’s like my brother and I, we grew up shaking hands with everybody. Whether you seen them last night or… you know, stick that old black paw out there, and let somebody shake that thing for you. You shake it back. And when you’ve got love in your heart they feel that love. It could be the most bitter SOB there but you know he’ll cool off and slow down. Like I said we don’t discriminate against anybody on this ride. Anybody’s welcome. I was always scared to tell people that I loved them, and I’m not anymore. I just want tell you guys that I love you, and thank you for being here. I know it’s hard, but let me know if you need anything. I’m more than willing to help. Mitakuye Oyasin. Maybe something’s in there? No it’s her ankle. That one guy said he saw her step in a crack. Yeah it’s her ankle. Well, she ain’t gonna make this ride. I’m, you may not know it because I don’t tell very many people. But I’m a hundred percent combat related disabled. One hundred percent. Jim knows what I’m talking about. As a Vietnam combat veteran my PTSD really kicked in today. It’s post-traumatic stress disorder. I’m a hundred percent disabled, and the doctors tell me not to be on the horse. Today it was really kicking in. I’m glad you guys let me be part of this.
Hau Mitakuyapi. With that Wowakan inside those six directions, you place a man or a woman on a horse, you give it the seventh direction, which is the Chokata, the center of all things. It represents Mitakuye Oyasin. Everything is related and in balance. And you put that all together, and you move forward. You’re able to create power as you go. So that was their justification for going to war. That it was either to defend themselves rather than starve to death. I learned a lot about the 38+2 because while I was on that ride I could really look into the past while you’re sitting on that horse, and it makes you realize you have a lot of time to think. They say that the spirits are the ones that lead the people. They are in front of that staff. They’re the ones taking us through this cold weather. These elements, they say these elements are a part of life. We didn’t realize how inspirational this was going to be. If they would bless us by coming back again some year we would really welcome them. We hope it’s an annual event, but we hope the weather’s a little bit more cooperative. We wanted to put welcome to our farm on it, but we didn’t know how to spell it. Or how to say it. So he came up with the word for thank you. We thought, we can park all the vehicles, we have lots of land and we have pasture for the horses and a shop to feed everybody. We just thought it was just a really neat thing that you’re doing and a good message for the season and something we wanted our kids to experience with all of you, and we thought it would be more personal here. I’m going to sing this song on behalf of my relatives here, to honor you today for this grateful thing that you’ve for us. We couldn’t even see. I mean the cars couldn’t even see. The horses were like doing this. Faces, the winds coming from this way and everyone’s doing this. Julian stops, gets out, “We’re shutting it down.” Everybody gets off their horses there’s not room enough in the car. I look over, Gus’ truck and trailer is in a ditch. Things going terribly wrong. And it didn’t need to happen man. Have a conversation. Talk about it. We have two days of rest the 21st and the 22nd. Today is the 20th right? You don’t ride today, you wait for the storm to pass, Saturday and Sunday, like the weather report said, it was going to be horrible, and then you ride on the days of rest. He hit the ditch back there. There’s no room for our horses. Yeah you’ve got to make arrangements. You gonna haul horses there you know, you gonna stop it, you gotta haul them back. Shit man. Jesse, what are you going to do? I don’t know. I gotta have my horse safe, not out in the middle of the road. It makes complete sense to me, but since I’m not involved in this, I’m not a leader, I can’t… You are a leader Adam. We are all leaders. Yeah we’re all leaders. Come on. That’s a great saying, and I’d like to believe that. All we’re doing here is a lack of communication. That’s all we have. I told you guys when we first started, “I’m only the person that had the dream.” So I try to step back, and I try to let these leaders step up. The little girl got kicked by Chris’ horse maybe, right in the hand, right across the knuckles. Where I come from everybody is mostly still mad about what happened. That’s probably another reason why I don’t really get along with Caucasian people. They rose up to defend themselves. Starving to death and to protect their land and their way of life and their people. Was it wrong to defend ourselves? That’s the question. Within weeks, 500 whites – settlers, soldiers and government agents – were dead, along with a smaller but unknown number of Indians. There were pretty horrendous deeds done on both parts. I mean some immigrant from Germany who wasn’t privy to the signing of Traverse Des Sioux Treaty was probably pretty shocked to see his wife’s womb cut open, a baby taken out and brained against a tree. Just as later when New Ulm people attacked the Indians and killed a woman’s child in front of her. You know there’s no heroes here. It was just an ugly situation. When I think about Abraham Lincoln, that’s hard to swallow because he freed the slaves, but yet really succumbed to pressure from the people to hang, you know there were supposed to be 300… Over 300 were supposed to be executed, but he reduced it to 38. We say this is a spiritual ride. We’re going to be the first ones to ask for forgiveness. We want to say our apologies. As the Natives we want to step up and say, “We apologize.” So we’re going to be the first ones to forgive what happened when they hung our ancestors in 1862. We’re going to be the first ones to forgive. You know I have anger in my heart too, and I take care of it the best I can. And I feel like I’ve done pretty good in the last ten years. Moved forward pretty good and it’s time to let those things go and press forward in a positive way. You know Pancho and I are the ones who are interacting with the family, talking with Eli, talking with Taylor the daughter, she just Facebooked me, talking with Brady. Because if we’re not talking with them, everybody else, in my opinion, of the Native community, is doing their own little thing in the corners. Dave said he’s never been into a white person’s home, and he’s from Sisseton. And that’s where all those guys are from. So it’s probably hard for them. I know it’s hard for them, but those people could not have made it easier. And I’m not saying what they were feeling but this family like, they had Wopida For Peace on their shirts, with a horse and rainbow letters. It could not have said welcome with their names on the back. I mean they went to a lot of trouble for this. I don’t know if they normally walk around with that or if they did it for this ride, but they had the whole thing going. I feel like we let them down a little bit actually as a community. I don’t know, that’s just how I grew up. Not having them trust us or thinking we’re going to steal something, or you know, something was going to go missing and they were going to blame us. So I didn’t really feel comfortable stopping at all those houses. I mean it’s cool that they did that man. I liked that a lot. It’s pretty crazy how it all worked out for the horses and for us. What are you doing? Recording. What’s your name? Amber. Are you going to ride Amber? Are you excited? Yeah. You’re a part of this group now so don’t be afraid to tell them how you feel because they don’t know that. To like do it publicly, is a big, is a big thing. But now you’re part of the group. But am I? Do you know what I’m saying? I feel like I am but then it’s kind of like, you know, am I? A lot of us are getting sore throats and headaches and stuff, and it’s kind of hard to be in this climate if we’re not used to it. And I know the Canadians, they don’t care they’ll go around naked. I seen Karl walking down the creek with just a blanket on this morning. He was going to chop a hole in the ice and take a bath he said. But I think one of our leaders here made some medicine in that container over there. Feel free to get some especially now when it’s really warm. Us guys take medicine as hot as we can take it. I mean I don’t want this ride to end. I want to keep this ride going because this is the only time I’ve ever felt happy. Because back home it’s really hard. It makes me feel good riding for my people. Our people suffer from something. An elderly woman, a full blood Dakota from where I’m from in Crow Creek, I was with her one time, and boy, a lot of bad things were going on. A lot of bad things. And I’d asked her why does this always happen to us? Why do we do these things to each other? Why does it always happen? And she didn’t say anything, she was driving a car, for a while. I looked over and she was crying. And she said in our language “iyokisica”. A deep embedded genetic depression. See our people at one time, the Dakota people, or all Native Americans, had a very strong connection with the Creator, a very strong connection with Mother Earth, a very strong connection with nature, the forces of nature, all living things on this planet. And all this was taken from us like that. And we lost this connection with everything that we had. That’s where this depression comes from. A lot of our people are severely depressed, and they don’t even know it. This depression is just now clinically diagnosed as the same thing soldiers suffer from when they return from combat. In 1967 and 1968 I served in a place called Vietnam. Probably you young people don’t know where that’s at. And at that time, I took 38 lives. Had no connection, didn’t make no connection with Mankato, didn’t know about Mankato until I had this dream in 2005. There were 38 that were hung, and how does that all tie in. I can’t say that I know. I mean I really don’t. But he had an experience around the fire, which I’m not going to go into deeply because it’s his experience, which clearly showed him some things that he needed to do to release the 38 Vietnamese men that had been killed by him. And all of this was told to him by his mother, and his mother passed away when he was ten. But she came out of the fire and told him he needed to do this. I’m kind of an emotional guy. Coming down the road my boarding school days kicked in. My days in Vietnam kicked in riding into the city. So all my abandonment issues, the hurts and the pains that I went through, kicked in coming down the highway this morning. I was wondering what our people went through the day before the hanging. What were their thoughts, their feelings? ÇIn the early hours of Friday the 26th, as the time of the execution approached, some of the Dakota men lay sleeping on the floor. ÜÑ At dawn, many of the condemned men said goodbye to their captors in a display that fascinated the reporters. á”They shook hands with the officers who came in among them, bidding them goodbye as if they were going on a long and pleasant journey.”ÜÑ And they all wanted their medicine man to speak on their behalf. The words are, “Don’t let your heart be sad. We’re going to see each other again. úAnd when we see each other again, your heart and my heart is going to be so happy it’s going to cry when we come together again.” That’s what the song says.ÜÑ Although it’s been said many times, many ways, Merry Christmas to you. Merry Christmas guys. It was the day after Christmas when they hung them. You know, that’s terrible. That’s something very terrible to do during such a sacred time. Those are things that we’re slowly trying to wipe away, and it’s working. And so the ceremony continues as we eat tonight, get up in the morning, and get our horses and have our ceremonies and start our final ride to the hanging site. Hoka Hey. For this event, for the memory of the 38 Dakota, not only do we have a ride but we also have a run. Not only are we remembering, we’re honoring our ancestors and those that have passed and struggled before us. It means a lot to me. We’re kind of tracing through the footsteps of the 38 Dakota +2 that had to go through this. So we’re kind of, I don’t know how to explain it, but we’re kind of going back through that experience again. I’ve always believed that they’re watching over us. You know it’s not just us out there running. That’s just kind of the way I see it. We know our history and it hurts. But we’re no longer in that prison anymore. Reconciliation means something to everybody, and I think it’s a collective. And we actually also had the opportunity to catch the run. We ran for two miles at about 3:00 AM, so it has been quite an adventure for the five of us
who were there last night. So thank you to the riders. Thank you to the runners. On that fateful day, they were lead out of the prison compound. They were shackled and chained together. They had hoods on them. The women began wailing and weeping. One of the prisoners in a loud voice said, “Namahun po mitakuyapi, Hear me my people. Today is not a day of defeat, it is a day of victory. For we have made our peace with our Creator and now go to be with him forever. Remember this day to tell our children so they can tell their children that we are people who die a noble death. Do not mourn for us, rejoice with us, it’s a good day to die.” And then he lifted up his voice and began singing. I just want to tell all of you that I love you. We’re doing this for our children, our grandchildren, and I want to thank all of you that helped me fulfill this dream. It’s been a blessing for our people. Fifty-three years ago I entered first grade, and I was taught nothing but misinformation about the people that preceded me on this land. And it wasn’t until the 1980’s, when I walked into my first pow wow at at the Land of Memories, when I realized that I didn’t know anything except lies for the most part. And so I started that day to listen. Whereas, the Dakota people lived in unity with the land for many years long before the European people came. And whereas, the Dakota people have suffered unimaginable hardship over a long period of time, as the land and riches they once had were gradually removed from their control. And whereas, the Dakota people have many times been forcibly relocated at the whim of the United States government. âAnd whereas, one outcome of their trials was the largest mass execution ever recorded in U.S. history during which 38 Dakota were hanged.ÜÑ åAnd whereas, the Dakota people have put forth tremendous effort in an attempt to continue to heal from their suffering over all these years.ÜÑ And whereas, the people of this community welcome the Dakota people to be part of our community today and always. And whereas, the people of this community recognize the responsibility we must bear in this healing process. And whereas, the people of this community wish to be part of the healing process as the wounds begin to close. ÑNow, therefore, In recognition of the tremendous contribution made by the Dakota people toward that healing process to our communityÜÑ ìand communities in the region, I John D. Brady, mayor of the city of Mankato, MN do hereby proclaim December 26th, 2008 to be Dakota ReconciliationÜÑ “Wokiksuye” Day. And in the sense of true reconciliation I just want to say welcome back to your home. I have just one little thing and then I’ll let you go. Just a little symbolism of that welcoming, I’m going to also offer Jim a key to the city of Mankato. It’s a key that opens no locks, it only opens hearts. Thank you very much. I thank each and every one of you here in this room. I thank the city of Mankato. I hope this opens a jail cell or two. I’m going to pass this staff on. I have two extra feathers for the two Dakota that were hung two years later, and I want to present them to him also. We are going to keep this going. From here, forever, we’re going to keep this ride going. There was a bald eagle, just after he started singing, it was soaring just above us there. To see that, to see something like that, would make you cry, make any man cry to see something like that happening. Because this, this is real. You know it’s not going to end for me. I’m just going to keep that happiness with me. Once this ride ends I ain’t gonna leave my emotions right there and just go home to what I was doing. I’m going to take it with me. It’s going to come home with me. We’ve got to strive for that reconciliation. Lets go home and reconcile our families, our differences. Lets go home and hug our children, tell them that we love them.