The new memorial at Reconciliation Park
Here's a column item I filed for Monday, with a pic of Martin and Linda Bernard and the monument.
A few Saturdays ago, we published stories on the execution of 38 Dakota warriors 150 years ago in Mankato. That was a few days before the anniversary, on Dec. 26, and a new memorial was being installed in Reconciliation Park, which marks the site in Mankato where the Dakota men were hanged.
When the memorial was unveiled on the 26th, we didn't get a photo of it and several readers since have asked, what's it look like? So I called the artists, Martin and Linda Bernard, of Winona, and they sent a pic. The distinctive, Dakota-styled monument lists the names of all the men who were hanged, in the largest mass execution in the nation's history.
Bud Lawrence, the 81-year-old dynamo who was involved in establishing the park and raising the money for the new monument, said it was "a necessary thing to do for the Dakota people," to have the names of the executed at the site. "They've been waiting for it for a long time. Since the park was created in 1997, they have wanted the names inscribed there, and it was appropriate to do that."
The dedication and ceremony to mark the moment when the Dakota men, who were accused, justly or not, of involvement in the Dakota War in 1862, was a powerful moment, he said. Several hundred people attended on that cold morning, and the commemorative events have "certainly created a lot of interest for people who may not have been interested in the past."
If you haven't been to Mankato to visit the park, you now have a new reason to go. As much as Split Rock Lighthouse, Duluth's Aerial Bridge and Mall of America, it should be one of Minnesota's most visited sites. You'll learn more about the culture of our state in one visit to that memorial than any number of trips to the lighthouse or MOA.