After such a warm send off at St. Christopher's we began our trip west by first stopping at the Two Rivers overlook with a clear view of Bdote -- the convergence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers -- and a place of major significance for the Dakota people. These were the waters that bore a people. However, in 1862 they also became a place of isolation, desolation, and disease as those native peoples who had survived the US-Dakota Conflict were camped there until arrangements could be made for either prosecution under US Law or relocation to the West. It was haunting to look down on this ground that certainly intercepted so many tears. However, we were proud to learn that Episcopalian missionaries, such as Bishop Whipple, were among the very few who visited the camps to baptize, confirm, and bring into communion through the Eucharist.
After our stop at Bdote, each car read three excerpts telling the story of the lead up to the war, major events of the conflict, and lasting impacts of these actions. We spent a lot of time on the Traverse de Sioux treaty of 1851 and the many ways that it set the table for the later war.
From Bdote we drove to Mankato and paid our respects at the site that once held the scaffold that hanged 38 Dakota men in 1862. We learned about how many of these individuals were certainly innocent of any wrongdoing during the conflict. Across what is now Riverfront Drive, we witnessed the location where those executed were laid in shallow graves only to later be pillaged by universities and physicians for medical study. Tomorrow, we will be able to pay homage to the final resting place of one recovered skeleton as it was buried in the cemetery near Bishop Whipple Mission. At this point we were really beginning to feel us become part of this story.
We finally reached the Lower Sioux Agency Museum late in the afternoon as thunderstorms will beginning to build over the southern horizon. The experience was amazing. One of our tour guides was a descendant of Little Crow (fifth great grandson), who led the Dakota people during the time of the conflict. The other was a direct descendant of Chief Wabasha. We were able to see the storehouse where goods were withheld from the starving Dakota before the breakout of the war (the only structure still standing from the original agency settlement) and the foundations of buildings that held significant meaning in or after the war. A cool part was being able to learn about games played by Plains Indians. Ben even got a tutorial on playing lacrosse with traditional equipment. (Oh, and did you know that games would sometimes be played with goal posts eight miles a part and would be used to solve real-life conflicts?)
This evening, we are hunkered down at Jackpot Junction and decompressing by the pool. It was a wonderful day. We feel fortunate for your support and the support of our God as we make this journey of deep listening!