The Maza Kute performers, a traditional drum and song group, sang a song composed for the 38 Dakota, to the pounding of a large drum.
Mankato Mayor Eric Anderson read a proclamation declaring this the year of “forgiveness and understanding.”
The Dakota behind the new memorial and the ride and run have used the mantra “forgive everyone everything,” to mark the 150th anniversary. Those words will be engraved in Kasota stone benches that will be placed around the new memorial next summer.
State Rep. Dean Urdahl, who co-chairs a state task force commemorating the Civil War and U.S.-Dakota War, said that while great progress has been made through reconciliation and education, there remains a lack of understanding about what led up to the war and the travails that the Dakota suffered long after the war.
“Through understanding comes a healing that is still continuing today,” Urdahl said.
Richard Milda, of the Crow Agency in Montana, was among a small group of riders who made the entire trip from Lower Brule, S.D. to Mankato — the third year he’s taken part in the ride.
“I heard about the ride and was attracted to its message of forgiveness and remembrance,” Milda said. “This year’s ride was more powerful,” he said of the 150th anniversary.
“There was a lot of support from non-Natives along the way. A lot of towns that hadn’t taken us in in the past did this year. Making appearances at church groups and schools along the way was very rewarding, very empowering,” Milda said.
He said the care and safety of the horses on the long, cold journey was paramount on the riders’ minds.
“We don’t own the horses. We belong to them. They’re a part of our family.”