It was the day after Christmas, 1862, in the town square of Mankato, Minnesota, that 38 Dakota warriors were hanged at the order of president Abraham Lincoln. After 150 years, it is still the largest mass execution in American history.
Mankato is about 80 miles southwest of the Twin Cities. In 1862, it was a frontier town in the thick of growing tensions between the quickly multiplying white settlers and the increasingly marginalized Dakota natives. The mass execution was essentially the memorable conclusion to what is now known as the U.S.-Dakota War (also known as the Sioux Uprising of 1862, as the settlers called the natives Sioux Indians).
How War Erupted
In the summer of 1862, the…