The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

August 18, 2013

Film aims to inspire discussion of U.S.-Dakota War

Dakota featured in documentary to appear at screening

“Dakota 38” will make the viewer ask tough questions. And that's the point.

The 78-minute film tells the story of a 16-day, 330-mile trip by horseback from Lower Brule, S.D., to Mankato in 2008. (The annual ride began in 2005.) The documentary remembers the 38 Dakota who were hanged Dec. 26, 1862, as well as a group of Dakota who ride horseback each year to Mankato to commemorate the mass hanging.

The New Ulm Public Library will be screening the documentary Monday at the Wittenberg Collegiate Center Auditorium on the Martin Luther College campus. And afterward, several people featured in the film will be there to answer those tough questions.

Peter Lengkeek of Crow Creek, S.D., will be one of them. One of the riders from Crow Creek, S.D., Lengkeek said he's done numerous appearances promoting the film, but he's never actually seen it all the way through.

“It's just powerful. … It's hard for me to sit through it,” he said. “I really get a lump in my throat and start to cry.”

Lengkeek didn't even know he had a role in the film, and that role surprisingly turned out to be quite a big one, he said. He and other riders had stopped in Madison, S.D., at a college to speak to the American Indian Studies program and have lunch.

He was filmed while speaking with students about the ride, the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 and the hangings.

“It ended up being one of the major parts of the film,” he said. “I was kind of upset at first. I didn't know what was going on.”

But in the end he's been happy with the result. Having the opportunity to educate the public — especially those who have little knowledge of that time period and those who harbor negative feelings for Native Americans — has been life-changing.

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