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Wreaking vengeance — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

The European colonists who took over Minnesota were cold-bloodedly ruthless and brutal in defence of their transgressions against the real masters of the land

Every year, since 2005, some motivated Dakota Indians make a 300-mile trek on horseback in frigid winter temperatures to revive the memory of the 1862 travesty of justice when 38 of their ancestors were executed at Mankato in the biggest mass hanging in US history. To mark the sesquicentennial anniversary, this year’s ride began on December 10 in Crow Creek, South Dakota, the reservation the Dakota were exiled to from Minnesota, and ended on December 26 in Mankato. These hangings had followed kangaroo-court convictions of 303 Sioux Indians. Some trials of the thousands who surrendered after the defeat in the Dakota War of 1862, aka the Sioux Uprising, or Little Crow’s War, lasted less than five minutes. This public mass execution was on a single scaffold platform and the dead were buried en masse in a trench that was reopened that night and bodies distributed among the doctors.

When Minnesota became a state on May 11, 1858, the Dakota Indian bands’ representatives led by Little Crow the Sioux chief travelled to Washington, DC to negotiate the implementation of treaties. Instead, the northern half of the reservation along the Minnesota River was also taken and Pipestone quarry rights abolished. The Indian land was divided into townships and plots for settlement. Logging and agriculture eliminated surrounding forests and prairies and interrupted the Dakotan’s annual cycle of farming, hunting, fishing and gathering wild rice. Uncontrolled settler hunting dramatically reduced bison, elk, whitetail deer and bear, decreasing Dakota meat supply and reducing their furs’ sale. The Dakota Indians became increasingly discontented over their loss of land, non-payment of annuities, past broken treaties, food shortages and famines following crop failures.

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