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Dakota 38 + 2 Annual Wokiksuye (Memorial) Ride Presentation
December 17, 2017 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Join us on Sunday, December 17th at 6:30 pm at Living Word Church in Marshall, MN to view clips of the Dakota 38 + 2 Wokiksuye Ride documentary and presentation by a few of the riders. This event is free and open to the public.
If you are in southwestern Minnesota from December 13 through the 26th, there is a chance that you may see a group of riders traveling by horseback. The journey always begins on December 10th in Lower Brule, South Dakota and ends on December 26th in Mankato, Minnesota. Sometimes there are more than 100 riders and other times just a handful. They travel through snow, wind and freezing temperatures – they range in age from young children to the elders in their community. They ride in memory of their ancestors who were put to death on December 26th, 1862 in the largest mass execution in US history by President Lincoln.
The United States hung 38 Dakota men in a mass execution in retaliation for the six-week-long conflict called the U.S. – Dakota War that was spurred by starvation and repeated violations of treaty promises. Months later two additional men were kidnapped from Canada, where they had fled, and were executed in 1865.
“They remember the cold and hunger and pain of their ancestors. They remember the mass imprisonment at Fort Snelling and the diaspora that would follow, the marching and shipping of hundreds of innocent women, children and men from Minnesota on a deadly circuitous route that eventually came into the Dakotas. As they remember, they pray to heal, prayers not just for the Dakota people, but for all people. We start each day with prayer, and we end each day, before we put up the horses, we put up another prayer,” said Wilfred Keeble, a Crow Creek elder and Staff Carrier on the ride. “The message we carry: Reconciliation and healing.”
Keeble said he encourages the riders to keep their focus on that message; he carries prayers of reconciliation along with the Staff as he rides. Horses help to keep that focus. “The ride itself is ceremony,” Keeble said.
The horse embodies the six directions used in ceremonies, Mickey Peters, great-great grandson of Medicine Bottle, one of the two executed in 1865, told filmmakers for the 2008 documentary, Dakota 38. The front legs represent West and North, the back legs East and South, the head and ears point to the sky and the tail to Mother Earth, he explained. “When you put those six directions together, it creates a sacred center to bring wowakan. It’s a sacredness that you can only have with these six directions. You can pray on your horse, you can remember lots of things, Some people can remember things their ancestors went through. It’s the horse leading the way, because of its healing power.”
The “Wokiksuye Ride” came in a dream in 2005 to Jim Miller, an elder from Cheyenne River and a Vietnam veteran. Few years later, in 2008 the ride began and has continued today.
Each year the ride and the awareness grows – all along the route, people offer help. Sometimes in the form of lodging or meals and other times it is a place to rest and feed the horses. The riders will make their way from Flandreu, SD to Pipestone, MN on Sunday, the 17th, Russell, MN on the 18th and Vesta on the 19th. For five years now, the riders have been hosted in Marshall for lunch at Living Word Church and then at SMSU for lodging and the evening meal.
This event is hosted by Living Word Church in Marshall, MN and sponsored in part by CURE’s Rural Democracy Project. It is free and open to the public and a free-will donation will be taken to help support the ride.
CURE’s Rural Democracy Project is a grassroots campaign to re-energize democratic engagement among rural people, empower new rural leaders, and build a democratic society that serves people beyond the 1%.
CURE was founded by concerned citizens in the Minnesota River Basin in 1992 to combat river pollution by advocating for improved land use practices. As an organization long rooted in the movement for rural social justice CURE’s program areas have evolved to include not only watershed ecosystems but also the greater health of the rural communities they embrace. Today, CURE’s mission is to protect and restore resilient rural landscapes by harnessing the power of citizens who care about them. To learn more about all of the programs that CURE has to offer visit www.cureriver.org.