This week marks the anniversary of the final act in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, the terrible conflict that has been revisited this 150th anniversary year.
On Dec. 26, 1862, 38 Dakota went to the gallows in Mankato, the largest mass execution in U.S. history. It is evident, from scholarly work done in review of the "trials" that were held following the end of the war, that the 38 who died (many, many more had their sentenced commuted by President Abraham Lincoln) were tried, sentenced and executed in a manner that would scarcely pass for justice today. The sheer speed of the trials and the executions, less than three months after the end of the fighting, gives reason to question how thoroughly and fairly the proceedings were. The executions served the cause of vengeance more than justice.
History can be a hard thing to look back on and study. Even 150 years later, the complex story of the U.S.-Dakota War, its causes and its aftermath, touches nerves in many of the the descendants of those who fought, suffered and died in the war.
We hope that with this anniversary, and the commemoration ceremonies to be held in Mankato on Wednesday, that healing, forgiveness and acceptance will be the outcome of this commemorative year.