Sunday, May 31, 2020
Film Recalls the Terrible Aftermath of Sioux Uprising
Wednesday, April 17, 2019


In 2005 a Native spiritual leader and Vietnam War veteran dreamed he was riding on horseback across the Great Plains of South Dakota.

He arrived at a Minnesota riverbank to see 38 of his Dakota ancestors hanged.

Jim Miller soon learned that the execution—the largest mass execution in U.S. history-- had actually taken place the day before Christmas 1862—ordered by Abraham Lincoln. Their hangings came in the aftermath of the U.S. Dakota War of 1862 in southwest Minnesota, and they were followed with a forced march of 3,000 Dakota people out of Minnesota.

The conflict had erupted when the Dakota people were unable to sustain themselves on the reservation land allotted to them and they feared starvation heading into the Minnesota winter.

“Let them eat grass,” said one settler.

Four years later Miller and a group of riders retraced the 330-mile ride of his dream from Lower Brule, S.D., to Mankato, Minn., arriving at the hanging site on the anniversary of the execution.

The trip by horse was memorialized in the award-winning documentary “Dakota 38.” And it will be shown free of charge at 4:30 and 7 p.m. Thursday, April 18, at the Magic Lantern Cinemas in Ketchum.

The film is being shown by the Sun Valley Center for the Arts in conjunction with its current BIG IDEA project, “Unraveling; Reimagining the Colonization in the Americas.”

The film by director Silas Hagerty traces follows the riders through blizzards, the Native and non-Native communities that house and feed them along the way and the dark history they are beginning to wipe away.

“We can’t blame the wasichus, anymore,” said Miller. “We’re doing it to ourselves. Were selling drugs. We’re killing our own people. That’s what this ride is about, is healing.”

The film is being offered to the community free of charge per the wishes of the filmmaker, Silas Hagerty, said Kristine Bretall, The Center’s director of performing arts.

“The mission of this film is healing, and Silas asks that it be screened as a gift in line with Native healing practices,” said Bretall. “We do not want an admission fee to deter anyone from seeing this powerful film. I’d like to thank the Magic Lantern for helping us fulfill this request.”

To reserve a seat, go online at, call 208-726-9491 or stop by the Center’s box office at 191 Fifth Street East in Ketchum.


“Dakota 38” will bookend a free tour of the visual arts exhibition at The Center. The exhibition, associated with the BIG IDEA project “Reimagining Colonization in the Americas,” will take place at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 18.



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