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Remembrance and Reconciliation

December 7, 2021

Riders with the Dakota 38+2 Memorial Ride are stopping in Madison on December 14, part of their annual journey across South Dakota and Minnesota.

Since 2005, riders have made the 320-mile trek on horseback from Lower Brule, South Dakota to Mankato, Minnesota, in memory of 38 Natives hung on December 26, 1862; two more were hanged in 1865. The ride ends in Mankato, the site of the hangings. The riders’ goal is remembrance and reconciliation for Native and White peoples alike.

Kari Hall, instructor of Exercise Science and Chairperson of the DSU Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, said this annual event is “an amazing opportunity for folks in the Madison area and DSU students to learn a history lesson that happened right here in this region,” she stated, pointing out that this area is part of the original homeland of the Oceti Sakowin.

“Reconciliation begins with understanding where someone else is coming from,” Hall said, a concept that is referred to as “stepping in their shoes,” or empathy. “The 38+2 ride provides an opportunity to understand why a group of people has had so many generational challenges and barriers such as health disparities, high suicide rates, and other serious issues.”

While the events behind the 38+2 Memorial Ride are a lesson with a dark past from U.S. history (the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862), Hall said the intent of the memorial ride is not to create divisiveness with non-indigenous individuals.

“We as citizens should use these opportunities to learn from our neighbors. We can recognize that while we cannot change the past, we can make a more peaceful future,” she said. This spiritual healing is a necessary part of the process to reconciliation and change.

“If we are willing to be empathetic, acknowledge and support the healing of our indigenous communities, those are steps that can help heal the discord of this time,” she stated. 

Madison and DSU community members are invited to join the riders at the Trojan Center on the Dakota State University campus for a meal and a program on December 14.

Sodexo, the DSU food service provider, will be preparing indigenous meal options for the guests from 5:30 – 7 p.m., including walking tacos on frybread, maple-glazed roasted vegetables, and cedar tea. Regular menu items will also be available.

Meals for the riders are free; meals for members of the public will cost $12; tickets are available for pre-sale at this link (https://apps.dsu.edu/forms/general/Meal-Ticket.aspx), or guests can pay at the event.

Several riders and members of the Madison and DSU communities will offer remarks. Also, the Wakpa Ipaksan Singers from Flandreau will sing and have a drum circle.

“Listening to the traditional songs and drums, hearing the stories and the history behind the ride expands the worldview for our students and community,” Hall said. These traditions are also “incredibly impactful to the healing process of the ride.”

As in previous years, donations for the riders are being accepted; warm winter clothing items such as blankets or hats and gloves, non-perishable, pre-packaged snacks, or lip balm. Donation boxes are located on campus at the Karl Mundt Library and the Trojan Center. The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion committee is co-sponsoring the event, along with assistance from Sodexo, the Community Center, the Native America Student Association at DSU, MAST, and South Dakota Urban Indian Health.

This documentary explains more about the vision and ride: http://www.smoothfeather.com/dakota38/.

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