Learning about the Dakota 38+2

Good afternoon! I am LaRayne, St. Joseph’s Native American Studies teacher.

Runners lead the Dakota 38 Memorial riders for the first 10 miles.
“Freedom Runners” ran from the starting point in Lower Brule across the Missouri River Fort Thompson, South Dakota – approximately 10 miles.

Before Christmas break, St. Joseph’s seventh and eighth grade classes learned about the Dakota 38+2 Memorial Ride – what it is for, why it is done and what we could do to help. These thoughts spilled over into campus-wide education, sharing, and giving from the hearts of our students and staff.

The Dakota 38+2 Memorial Ride commemorates the 38 Dakota (Sioux) warriors who were hung in Mankato, Minnesota, following the Dakota War of 1862 – the largest mass hanging in our nation’s history. Two more warriors were hung later, in relation to the same conflict. The ride of reconciliation was inspired by one man’s vision to heal the brokenness between cultures.

Two of St. Joseph’s family service counselors, Scott and Rob, brought in riders to speak to our older students and showed the movie about the Dakota 38+2 (the link to YouTube is at the end of this post).

Students discussed, questioned, learned and reflected on different aspects of this historical event, which created motivation to support the riders financially. The students set out to raise money to help defray the costs of food and shelter

Riders on horseback journeyed from Lower Brule to Mankato, South Dakota for the Dakota 38 Memorial Ride.
The riders participating in the 2013 Dakota 38 Memorial Ride.

for riders and horses, as well as occasional police escorts on busy roads between Lower Brule, South Dakota and Mankato, Minnesota.

Out of respect for our donors, we wanted this money to come from our personal pockets – not from the generous gifts of those who support St. Joseph’s.  With the help of students and staff, our efforts raised more than $1,200 from a penny war, a raffle, “Jeans Because” money and a soup and salad lunch for staff campus-wide. It was great to see the different acts of generosity and downright competitions that came alive at St. Joseph’s Indian School to support this cause!

Our littlest children (first, second and third graders) brought in little bags of coins to add to their pickle jar for the penny war.  Staff members could add coins to any age group, and this is where the competition began.  During the last minutes of the penny war, it was evident that the staff was just as competitive as the kids in wanting to win the penny war and give to a great cause!

St. Joseph’s students and staff were at the send off on December 10, 2013.
St. Joseph’s seventh and eighth graders, along with several staff, attended the send off ceremony for the Dakota 38 Memorial Ride.

The purpose behind teaching this historical event to our students is to help them understand the events of the past and how they are linked to their ancestors.  Because we want our students to understand who they are, they must learn and understand where they come from. This is just one example.

The culmination in learning about the Dakota 38+2 was to be a part of the send off ceremony for the riders who departed from Lower Brule, South Dakota on December 10. Taking full advantage of the opportunity, we made this day a class field trip for the seventh and eighth graders.

Several adults accompanied 38 students for this great day.  We were honored to be a part of smudging, singing, honoring, listening, praying and building.

Our Lakota students built relationships with one another.  They built relationships with other communities, people, youth, Lakota leaders, other adults and the horse culture.

We were honored to be in the presence of Arvol Looking Horse, the 19th generation pipe carrier of our sacred cannunpapipe – blessed with prayer while a female elder and several male singers sang prayer and horse songs for the ceremony.

We had four young men from St. Joseph’s take advantage of running a few miles with other representatives from Lower Brule and Crow Creek to serve as runners for freedom.  Next year, we hope to have many of our students and staff help send our Dakota 38+2 horse riders off by running with the pack.

As staff, we hope this day will live in the memories and lives of these kids for years to come.  In the meantime, we will do our part to honor who we are and where we are going in mind, body, heart and spirit.

Learn more about the Dakota 38 by watching the trailer for the documentary on YouTube.

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph’s Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 89 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

15 thoughts on “Learning about the Dakota 38+2”

  1. Oh my… I never knew about this tragic event in our history. Thank you so much for this post. Wonderful that St Joseph’s is dedicated to teaching your students about their link to the past. God Bless you all! Happy New Year

  2. I know about the 38 Indians that were hanged and it was by the order of president Lincoln and had he lived he promised to eradicate all the Indians in minnisota. what do you think about the great emancipator now.Just another white guy that studies the true history.

    1. Thanks for your comments Seldon! We are aware of the history surrounding this event. We choose to be part of this event and educate our students about the past in a spirit of reconciliation, healing and looking toward the future. God bless you in your studies!

  3. What a devastating lesson of history for these children to reflect on! Heartbreaking really. Thank you so much for the article and You Tube link.

  4. I just saw the documentary. Jim Miller and his vision are an inspriation to all of us. Reconciliation and Healing is somethng we all need to strive for in order to make our planet a better place. Thank You So Much & God Bless You 🙂

  5. Why is The American Indian still on reservations and why are’nt they as advanced as the Blacks that were Slaves and overcame it. Why don’t the Indians have a Chief who can lead them to equality.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Ellen!
      This is an extremely broad subject. It’s important to remember that the Civil Rights Movement didn’t really start effecting change until well into the 1960’s – such change can take hundreds of years, and the Reservation Era didn’t begin until almost 1900. Native Americans don’t have a common Chief because tribes from different areas of the United States are different peoples – the Lakota (Sioux) are not the same group as the Cherokee or the Cheyenne, for example. Two great books on the subject are “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown and “Neither Wolf Nor Dog” by Kent Nerburn.

  6. From what I read in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, a Military Court recommended 303 Santee Indians be hung, but the decision to do so was passed up to President Lincoln. He requested the court records and had two lawyers review them. Based on this review he authorized the 38 hangings. Not to say they 38 +2 hangings weren’t horrendous, but Lincoln did mitigate the atrocity somewhat.

  7. I have read this before and today I showed this article to a friend, he had quite a reaction while reading the story. I am also an American Indian, my parents came from the Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina and then moved north where I was born.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *