The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

April 23, 2012

Dakota memorial gets city's support

Group hopes to have memorial installed by fall

MANKATO —  

   The plan to install a memorial to the 38 Dakota hanged in Mankato 150 years ago is moving ahead after getting the City Council’s approval Monday night.

The memorial — proposed by the Dakota — would list the names of the 38 Dakota along with a poem. It will go in Reconciliation Park across Riverfront Drive from the library.

A committee working on the memorial is moving ahead to raise the $104,000 needed to build and install it. They would like the memorial in place by September, prior to the annual pow-wow.

The memorial plan initially drew controversy when some said it made a one-sided statement by honoring the Dakota who were executed after the U.S.-Dakota War without memorializing settlers who were killed.

And a poem originally proposed for the marker raised concerns for being anti-Christian and inaccurate. A new, more innocuous poem was quickly written to replace it.

While six council members voted to support the memorial, Charlie Hurd voted against it.

“I’m for the idea of reconciliation, but I’m not sure this is really the way to go about it,” Hurd said. “I’m not sure there is broad support in the Native American community or the community at large.”

Mayor Eric Anderson said his earlier concerns were eased by the fact the Blue Earth County Historical Society and the city’s convention bureau are working on other plaques, maps and tourist guides that would give a broader overview of the war and list important historic sites related to the war, both in Mankato and up the river valley.     

The monument, designed by Martin and Linda Bernard of Winona, lists the 38 names on a 10-by-4-foot scroll.

The memorial would also carry the message of reconciliation, with the phrase “forgive everyone everything” circling the monument, planned to be 20 feet in diameter.

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