Blue Earth County
|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
Located in Reconciliation Park near the Blue Earth County library:
100 East Main Street
Mankato, MN 56001
This memorial was erected in memory of the 38 Dakota American Indians who were executed on Dec. 26, 1862 for alleged war crimes or atrocities committed during the Dakota War. The memorial is located on the site where the executions took place, but the 38 Dakota men are not buried here. The execution stands today as the largest simultaneous mass execution in US history. None of the men who were convicted had received a fair trial by today's standards. They were tried by a military commission and sentenced in a military kangaroo court. Most historians now believe that some of those who were executed were innocent of the crimes of which they were accused.
Thirty-eight Dakota men were executed, but there are 39 memorials. Tate Hmihma ("Round Wing") received a pardon from President Abraham Lincoln the day before the executions took place.
The last act of the Minnesota Dakota (Sioux) War took place here in Mankato on December 26, 1862 when thirty-eight Dakota Indians died in a mass execution on this site.
The Dakota War was a culmination of years of friction between Dakota and whites as settlement pushed into Indian hunting grounds. Government agents and missionaries hoped the Dakota could be taught to live as farmers and worship as Christians but Chief Big Eagle said many years later, "It seemed too sudden to make a change . . . If the Indians had tried to make the whites live like them, the whites would have resisted and it was the same with many Indians." The Minnesota uprising was one of the nation's most costly Indian wars, both in lives lost and property destroyed. It resulted in the near depletion of the frontier and the exile of the Dakota from Minnesota.
At the war's conclusion several hundred Indians were tried by a five man territory commission and on November 5, 1862, 303 were sentenced to death. Henry B. Whipple, Episcopal Bishop of Minnesota met with President Abraham Lincoln on behalf of the Indians. After listening to the bishop and personally reviewing the trial records, Lincoln commuted the death sentence for all but thirty-eight prisoners.
At 10 am on December 26, 1862, the condemned men, chanting the Dakota death song, marched in single file to a scaffold guarded buy 1,400 troops in full battle dress. A crowd of citizens were on hand to witness the largest mass execution in United States history.
The first memorial reconciliation ceremony, sponsored by the Native Americans and Mankato community, was held on this site November 5, 1978, in an endeavor to move forward together as one people striving for social change and equality through education and understanding.