Several hundred people gathered near Fort Snelling State Park on Tuesday for a sacred ceremony marking the end of this year's Dakota Commemorative Walk.
The walk retraces the footsteps of the 1,700 Dakota women and children who were forced to march nearly 125 miles to Fort Snelling after the U.S. Dakota War of 1862. The prisoners were then held in an internment camp where hundreds died.
About 50 people walked the entire way from Morton in southwest Minnesota to Fort Snelling, with dozens more joining in along the route. After crossing the Mendota Bridge, elders led a spiritual ceremony to remember and honor the families who made the original march.
"If you live in Minnesota, its part of your history, too. It's part of the history of this land," said Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota cultural chairman Nick Anderson. "And if you live here it's important to know about it its importance for non-native people to know how Minnesota was lost by us and acquired by them."
Anderson said the ceremony is an opportunity to thank his ancestors for their suffering.
"They went through that so I could be here today and because of that I feel it's important to give back," Anderson said. "We definitely don't suffer as much as they did on the original walk but we give something of our energy back, and to me that is a way to say thank you. Thank you for surviving."
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the original march. Observers of the march's anniversary have made the walk every other year since 2002.