Reconciliation Park, Mankato, MN

DSCN1665Mankato, MN, has the unfortunate distinction of being the site of the largest mass execution in US history. On Dec. 26, 1862, at the end of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, 38 Dakota Sioux Indians were publicly hanged by the US Army for their attack on white settlers in New Ulm, MN.

Originally, 303 men were sentenced to hang by President Lincoln himself, although he later pardoned a great majority.  While this is indeed a dark chapter in Minnesota and America’s history, Mankato has not forgotten about it or swept it under the rug.  Reconciliation Park was dedicated in 1997. It features a large concrete buffalo, a rock, and sign.  Yeah, that really makes up for it.  *sarcasm*

However, in 2012, on the 150-year anniversary of the execution, Mankato hosted a Memorial and Dedication, with around 500 Native American and white people both calling for healing and forgiveness. Also during this ceremony, a large buckskin-looking script was erected with the names of the “Dakota 38,” as they are known. It’s a nice addition to the memorial site.

dakota-38Image Source:  Mankato City News

Across the street at the Blue Earth County Library, which is the actual site of the execution,  there is also an Indian statue titled “Winter Warrior” in memory as well.  It’s not like all of this absolves us of the past, but it is a part of our history and a step in the right direction.

Reconciliation Park is located near downtown Mankato right by the Minnesota River. While in the area, make sure to stop by and see the last remaining Happy Chef,  swing over to New Ulm to check out the Schell’s Brewery, or the underrated Rapidan Dam and Store.

7 thoughts on “Reconciliation Park, Mankato, MN

  1. I’m reading “38 Nooses” by Scott W. Berg. I have been following the history of this period on Google earth maps. Its just hard to take in. All that space and land now highways and buildings and asphalt. And the human tragedy of Dakotas and settlers. Just so sad and disturbing. Somehow I think it would be a greater comfort if the original site of execution and surrounding spectator areas where saved as a national park/monument of sorts. Does the highway really have to go right through that area?

    • Sounds like a good read. And I agree, the highway basically goes right on top of this site, and all there is for a memorial is a tiny park with a few rocks and a buffalo.

  2. What the people of Germany did to the jewish people is no different then what we did to the Indian nations. Yet we are not forced to remind the world of what we did in America.

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  6. The platform should be rebuilt with depiction of the truth set on it. The vision of the act should be shown properly also to remember the thousands of those who cheered as well. Which gets more to the point of how and why of this. Show people how their own fears and ignorance are manipulated to be coerced into even celebrating against their very nature. It would serve as to use critical thinking, such as that supposedly done by Abe Lincoln himself as the local authorities sought extinction of the tribe to rid them of any resistance of taking over tribal lands without compensating the life of souix nation. Which of course is now a barren wasteland for all practical purposes. You look out in the country side and think was it worth it? Like there wasn’t room enough for those that respect the land to exist here?

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