New documentary on largest mass execution in US history

Minnesota Public Radio reported on the largest mass execution in Unted States history. It occurred 148 years ago, when 38 Dakota warriors were hanged from a single scaffold in Mankato Minnesota. The effect of that mass execution still reverberates today among the Dakota people.

A new documentary film remembers the 38 warriors, and a group of Dakota people who ride on horseback each year to Mankato to commemorate the executions of Dec. 26, 1862.

The U.S.-Dakota War played out in familiar themes of broken treaties and unfulfilled promises. The war started in August of 1862 and ended six weeks later with hundreds of dead Indians, settlers, and soldiers.

The conflict began over unfilled promises of food and goods that the United States government made the Dakota in exchange for land. When the was over, hundreds of Dakota fighters were arrested and sentenced to death, charged mainly with killing civilians. After pleas urging leniency, President Abraham Lincoln spared most of the accused, except for the 38 who were eventually hanged.

The Dakota were evicted from Minnesota, sent to live on reservations in Nebraska and the Dakotas. Some ended up as far away as Canada.

The annual horseback ride from the Missouri River in South Dakota to Mankato is to remember the executed. That journey, in turn, inspired Hagerty and his colleagues to honor both the modern day riders and those hanged in 1862.

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