The Ghost of Christmas past- Mankato Executions, mass slayings, and family fun! by Thomas Pearce

As my late friend  Aunt Becky Canales and my friend Dave Larson told me years ago, on Christmas Eve Day in 1862, 38 Dakota men and their families were marched from Fort Snelling in Minneapolis MN to “Mahkato” or as it is called today Mankato MN to be hung to death on the day after Christmas before a crowd of celebratory onlookers who ate picnic meals as the men were hung. These hangings were carried out to exact revenge on the Mdewakanton for the killing of an “US Government Indian Agent” Andrew Myrick, who after complaints were lodged against him for stealing food stores that were to be given to the 1600 people confined under the watchful gaze of Fort Snelling. The agent responded “Let them Eat Grass”, shortly after the agent was found stuffed with grass. The hangings were a reaction to the people’s response to being starved.

For years a group of indigenous people in Minneapolis have gathered at the dark foreboding fort formerly known as Fort Saint Anthony, that towers over the Mississippi River atop a cliff and would silently run the roughly 82 miles in relay to Mankato, to remember these ancestors. They have done no press conference, nor have they sought white recognition of their effort. This is not done for show but so we never forget what happened at Fort Snelling or the ancestors who died there.

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