MADISON, S.D. (KELO) — On December 26, 1862, 38 Dakota men were hung in Mankato, Minnesota. Two years later, two more Dakota men were hung. Collectively, those hangings became the largest mass hanging in U.S. history.
Every December, riders of the 38+2 Memorial Ride travel from Lower Brule Indian Reservation to the site of the hanging by horseback.
The riders stopped in Madison, South Dakota, for a unique meal to replenish them Saturday afternoon.
Since 2005, the 38+2 Memorial Ride treks 330 miles in remembrance of a traumatic event that still affects people today.
“They made people walk all the way from South Dakota to Mankato to get hung, so they do that journey to honor those warriors,” Sioux Chef head chef Vernon DeFoe said.
For the last three years, the Sioux Chef team from Minneapolis have come to the Dakota State University campus in Madison to prepare a unique meal for the riders on one of their stops.
“I feel that our food is very healing in a lot of ways. So it’s nice to be able to give that good, spiritual healing meal to them. Especially on a trek like this, which is super emotional and hard on the body physically everyday,” DeFoe said.
So what was on the menu for the riders when they reached Madison?
“All of our food is pre-colonial and indigenous. We specifically kind of focus on the Minnesota and the Dakotas area,” DeFoe said.
That means there were no wheat products, dairy or farm animals on the menu. DeFoe says they serve a lot of foods featuring the ‘three sisters:’ squash, beans and corn.
“I just like being able to cook food that Native people used to eat all the time. We kind of lost our way with food, so its nice to be able to showcase food and just watching everybody’s reactions and how they feel after they eat,” DeFoe said.
Dakota State University says they are excited to host this leg of the ceremony.
“We’re super excited to have the riders come in because that’s awesome just to have the riders, but then it’s also really important for us that the Sioux Chef is here,” Vaughan Hennen, chair of the Committee for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at DSU.
DeFoe says it’s a spiritual experience for the Sioux Chef team to be a part of the memorial ceremony.
“We hope that it helps replenish them, I guess, in other ways than just being full,” DeFoe said.