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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


September 8, 2001 - Issue 44


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We Honor the 38


 by Leonard Wabasha, Mahkato Mdewakanton Association President


August 17, 1862, The beginning of what would be considered by many as the start of the great Indian wars. It was in Acton, Minnesota that a small group of Dakotah men found some eggs, argued about their rightful ownership, and so led to what we know as the 1862 Conflict. To some it was but a mere skirmish, to me and to many of my people it was the culmination of years of lies and deceit, of oppression and thievery by top-ranking government officials and well known and respected traders and entrepreneurs.

Hundreds lost their lives and some lost only their homes. My people lost their way of life and for the most part, their culture. We were sent scattered across the continent and into Canada, for the lucky ones that could make it there. Into desolate prison-like reservations for the rest of us, where we would continue to live a miserable way of life. Having what was left of our culture slowly stripped from us, while we were taught the white man's way of life. To me, it was a form of genocide.

December 26, 1862, at ten in the morning 38 Dakotah warriors had their lives taken by public hanging, for committing crimes of war, as if war were not a crime in itself. My people, those warriors, only did things that were done to their families--a lesson taught to them by the white man--and they were punished for it.

Today, one-hundred and thirty-nine years later, in the year 2001, we still remember these thirty-eight men. Today we remember them; they are our heroes, our martyrs, our relatives. So we honor their existence, in our history, by holding an annual traditional Powwow in their names and memories. It is not about making money, nor is it about who's who. It is about respect, honor and preserverence; to be who we are, to be Dakotah and to continue living in a good way; to share our lives and perpetuate our culture, to make new friends and shake hands with old friends. We do this in memory of those men and two that were stolen from safety, in Canada.

The third weekend, of September, each year we gather at the bend in the river to remember, so please come and join us. Come a shake hands, be a friend, be a Koda.

Mahkato Wacipi
This year, the Wacipi is September 14-16. For more information and directions visit:

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Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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