For 150 years 14 Dakota tribal communities have lived in exile in the Dakotas, Nebraska, Montana and Canada—they’ll come back to their Minnesota homeland for two days this month.
“Despite our removal, despite all that has happened in the last 150 years, we have persisted in being Dakota,” said JB Weston, of the Flandreau Tribal Historic Preservation Office, in a press release. “We have outlasted the efforts of the United States to sever us from our culture. We remain—and we are coming home.”
After the U.S-Dakota War ended in September 1862, Native Americans who fought were tried by a five-member military commission. There were 392 trials—69 were acquitted, 303 were sentenced to die and 38 Dakota warriors were hung on December 26, 1862 in Mankato, Minnesota. Another result of the war was the passage of the Winnebago and Sioux-Dakota Removal Acts of 1863. The removal process was brutal. William E. Lass, an associate professor of history at Mankato State College, wrote about the removal and its effects in 1962 in The Removal From Minnesota of the Sioux and Winnebago Indians.
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of that removal a “Legacy of Survival: Coming Home” event is being held August 15-17 that will highlight the resiliency of those who were exiled.
The event begins with a Dakota Camp at the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribal Community in South Dakota on Wednesday, August 15.
“The Camp is a celebration and remembrance of Dakota Oyate survival,” said Franky Jackson, one of the lead event organizers, in the release. “We will come together to share and document our ancestors’ stories, how they struggled to keep our identity as Dakota alive, and we’ll showcase the vibrancy of our culture and people today.”
On Friday, August 17—the same date the U.S-Dakota War began—the event continues with a walk from Flandreau across the Minnesota border to the Pipestone National Monument, which is a place of deep cultural and spiritual significance.
All Minnesota residents are invited to attend the gathering at Pipestone to welcome the exiled Dakotas home. There will be a feast, ceremonies and remarks from Minnesota and tribal officials.
“Because we live in exile outside the state, we are often forgotten—by Minnesotans and even by our own relatives,” said Melvin Houston, spokesperson for Minnesota affairs for the Santee Sioux Nation of Nebraska, in the release. “We want to raise awareness that we are still here. We want our grandchildren to remember our legacy of survival.”