Here were hanged

I got an email yesterday from a student at my old alma mater, Mankato State, which was rechristened Minnesota Univeristy, Mankato. I get such emails once a month or so because someone has stumbled onto my website. Jay stumbled onto my site while researching the now hidden monument to the mass hanging of 36 Sioux Indians in Mankato during the Civil War. It was the greatest mass execution in US History and was quite an attraction for the vengeful and the curious after the “Sioux Uprising.”

The monument, (which looks more like a tombstone) was spashed with red paint representing blood in the early 1970’s at the beginning of the American Indian Movement.

Erected at at time when docile indians were tucked away quietly on their reservations the monument became an embarassment for Mankato in our more enlightened generation. At some point after I left town it was buried by the City of Mankato and has remained hidden like Hitler’s ashes. 

I had written a column called “Here were hanged” a few years ago in response to a letter-to-the-editor complaining that Duluth shouldn’t build a monument to the shameful lynching that took place here in 1921.

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  1. Hi Mr. Welty, my name is Jay *****. I am a student at Minnesota State University, Mankato. I am currently in a Public History class with Prof. Melodie Andrews. We have been working on a project all semester about the Dakota Hanging Monument. I noticed in your essay, Here Were Hanged, you stated the monument was buried in a semi-secret location. We have entered the phase of our project where we are trying to accertain the final fate of the monument. The monument’s whereabouts are pretty solid up until 1994 when it was ordered removed from a city yard that is part of the Water Treatment Plant in Sibley Park. My question for you, good sir, is do you have any further information about the monuments whereabouts after it left the city yard? I greatly appreciate your time and would love to hear from you. On a side note, I checked out your snowbizz site and it is pretty cool. Thanks again for your time. -Jay

  2. Hi Jay,

    I wish I could tell you where the monument is. I wrote the essay a few years ago when people were complaining about the building in Duluth of our memorial for the 1921 lynching we’re infamous for.

    I thought of the controversy around the Mankato monument and was curious about it so I checked out the Internet. I was surprised to learn that the monument had been buried. I can’t remember what the website was that had the history of the monument. I got the sense it was maintained by the city
    (maybe by a librarian) but I could be wrong about that.

    1994 wasn’t that many years ago so I’ll bet there are a half dozen city workers who have a pretty good idea what happened to it. I’ll bet you could make a couple calls to the city and figure out who was in charge of either the treatment plant or of street maintenance or the unions which represented the workers and find some names and numbers in the phone book. Then you
    could call around. I think the idea of burying the monument was entirely worthy as a way to exorcise its demons but the historian in me would rather see it in a museum. I don’t know if the workers were sworn to secrecy but I’ll bet some of them could be prevailed on to spill the beans if they thought it was for a grand purpose like shining a light on history. (Did you
    know, for instance, that Schuyler Colfax, US Grant’s Vice President, died alone and a mystery corpse in the Mankato Depot?)

    Good luck on the project. And thanks for your kind words about my website. Drop by anytime. If Doran Hunter is still in the Dept you might tell him I really enjoyed his lectures on political philosophers as a freshman in 1969 or thereabouts.


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