commemorates Mankato hangings, began with one mans dream
started with a dream.
Miller, a 60yearold Vietnam veteran, Lakota Spiritual
Leader and a descendant of the Dakota Sioux Tribe, said he dreamt
of himself on a horse, traveling east. He was accompanied by a number
of other riders, though he didnt know where he was going or
have signs, visions and dreams, Miller said, and these
are the three things that move us. Once you have a dream, your people
get behind you to help fulfill it. In our world it takes four years
to do it, and then you get on with your life.
what Miller didnt know was the impact his dream would have
on all of the descendants of the Dakota Sioux Tribe.
who lives on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Porcupine, S.D.,
had his dream in 2005. In the dream, he traveled 330 miles on horseback,
eventually coming to a riverbank in Minnesota where he saw 38 of
his own ancestors hanged. Miller then realized that he had dreamed
of an event that took place in 1862.
was the Dakota Sioux Uprising, which ended in the largest mass execution
ever recorded in U.S. history. On Dec. 26, 1862, 38 Dakota men were
hanged in what is now Mankato, Minn. Also, a federal policy and
a newly formed state resulted in the removal of Dakota people from
their lands, scattering them from Saskatchewan to Nebraska.
stepped forward with his vision in December of 2005, and riders
from several tribes rode over from the Lower Sioux Indian Community
near Morton, Minn., to the site of the execution in Mankato. The
purpose of the ride was to commemorate the men, women and children
who were forced to march across the cold winter prairies to the
hanging at a large concentration camp at Fort Snelling, Minn.
event became known as the Dakota 38 Reconciliation Ride. Because
this is the final year of Millers vision, the riders are in
it for the long haul, a 330mile trip from the Lower Brule
Indian Reservation in central South Dakota to Mankato that will
complete the trip just as Miller envisioned it. Riders range in
age from 6 years old to 60.
than 60 of the participating riders came through Flandreau Dec.
15 and camped for the night on Santee Sioux tribal ground. Though
temperatures read well below the zero mark, participants were unfazed.
power from our ancestors (is) with us, Miller said. You
dont feel the cold. Oh man, its so powerful I cant
put it in words. So much that it makes you cry. When riding, many
of the young are crying because they can feel the power.
said more than 100 of the horse-backers will meet at the final destination
in Mankato. Following those on the ride are eight horse trailers,
portable toilets, hay trailers and a flatbed with supplies. Miller
said participants sleep either in the vehicles or spaces provided
by landowners they camp with. He added that the riders were able
to camp in tipis on two different occasions, which was a good sign
riders are even turning their trip into a documentary, which Miller
hopes will be used for educational purposes some day. The ride costs
nearly $70,000 for supplies for the riders and horses, and is entirely
funded through donations.
says hes always surprised by the generosity of the people
he meets along the way. He feels as though he was meant to head
up the ride, like it was his obligation all along. He says there
were signs in the dream that led him to this conclusion.
one point in the dream, we got in a circle and prayed to all four
directions, and there was a staff with 38 eagle feathers on it,
Miller said. It was the only time I have ever seen anything
making the trip is about more than just fulfilling the dream for
Miller and his fellow riders.
are doing this so our kids dont lose their culture and their
customs, he said. We will keep going, not only to honor
the dream, but to show that our people were marched first, out of
Minnesota in the wintertime. Its been a humbling experience
addition to preserving culture, Miller explains that the rituals
at the end of the ride are about forgiveness and forgiving.
the final stretch through Mankato, the riders gather around a buffalo
monument, where they pray for their ancestors. A rider-less horse
carries four offerings of sacred food, which Miller said is meant
to discourage negativity.
negativity then goes to that horse, he said. It creates
brotherhood and unity, linking a new relationship with white people.
It shows we are the first ones to forgive, to apologize. We want
to be forgiven too, to be able to live out our lives in harmony.
says that each time he and the riders have gathered around the buffalo,
theyve spotted an eagle soaring nearby. According to Miller,
medicine men in American Indian culture say the eagles are releasing
or taking spirits back to where they belong.
believe in spirits the Bible doesnt, Miller said. We
have our own traditional culture, and every stop on the trip tells
the story. This is Minnesotas darkest secret, and the states
150th anniversary is this year. Only the creator could give me a
dream that would coincide with that and the last year of its fulfillment.
this is the last year Miller is participating in his dream
ride, he said the young people involved want to keep the event
alive. He hopes to help coordinate it in the future.
the riders will lack in the ensuing years is the spirit Miller brought
to the participants. He isnt afraid to tell his comrades that
he cares for them.
make sure everyday to tell them, he said, I say, I
love you guys.
for the Dakota 38 Reconciliation Ride can be sent to Dakota Wichohan,
P.O. Box 7, Granite Falls, Minn., 56241.
more information, find it on the web at www.dakota38.com.