On December 26, 1862, 38 Dakota men were hanged in Mankato, Minnesota, in the largest mass execution in American history. The the event was a gruesome coda to the Dakota War of 1862, which had ended on September 26 with the Dakotas’ surrender at Camp Release.
On November 18, the Mankato Symphony Orchestra will play a concert to mark the 150th anniversary of the tragic war and hangings. The performance will consist of two compositions, “Trail of Tears” by Michael Daugherty and “To Be Certain of the Dawn” by Stephen Paulus.
“Trail of Tears” was inspired be the well-known forced relocation of tribes from the southeastern U.S. to what was called Indian Territory — better known today as parts of eastern Oklahoma — as decreed by the Indian Removal Act of 1830. As described in a release about the concert, Daugherty’s piece is “a musical journey into how the human spirit discovers ways to deal with upheaval, adversity and adapting to a new environment.” The performance on November 18 will mark the first time it has been played in its entirety.
Stephen Paulus’s “To Be Certain of the Dawn” is a multimedia performance consisting of music, song and photographs projected on a screen above the 80-member Mankato Symphony. The piece was commissioned by Fr. Michael O’Connell and Rabbi Joseph from the Twin Cities, and inspired by photos of children from the Holocaust.
“Even after 150 years, Minnesotans are still struggling with what happened in 1862…how do we find the words to describe something that was – and remains – indescribable?” Mankato Symphony Orchestra Music Director Kenneth Freed said, according to a release. “I believe that music is a language we all share and it is through music that perhaps we can come to terms with the past.”
For more information on the performance, or to purchase tickets, visit mankatosymphony.com