December Runner

By Nicole Stokes

On December 26, 1862 President Abraham Lincoln made a decision that would shape the history of Mankato, Minnesota. On that day, an order was given to hang 38 Dakota men for alleged crimes committed during the Dakota-US War. That presidential order led to the largest mass execution in our nation’s history.

Each year, dozens of runners gather annually for the Dakota 38 Memorial Run, an 80-mile trek from Fort Snelling in Saint Paul to Reconciliation Park in downtown Mankato, to honor those executed.

Marilyn Allen at Reconciliation Park, commemorating the 38 Sioux executed in 1862.

This year a familiar face to the Minnesota State University, Mankato campus will be making the run: cross-country team member Marilyn Allen. Allen is Dakota and Lakota, deriving from the South Dakota Flandreau Santee Sioux tribe.

“I feel as though it’s my part as a Dakota person to remember those that were before me and to make sure that they are remembered and that these stories are not lost,” she said.

Allen’s a first-year student on the Maverick cross-country team.

The run is set up in a relay fashion, so no one runner will make the entire journey. Allen will be accompanied by her father, two younger brothers and a classmate, Clare Carroll, who will drive the vehicle for Allen and her family. Carroll is vice president of the Minnesota State Mankato Owaci Okodakiciye (Powwow Committee.) 

Dakota language professor and uncle of Allen, Glenn Wasicuna, played an important part in recruiting her for the event.

“A strong, experienced runner is chosen to begin the 13-mile run out of the Fort Snelling area to highway 13. She is the ideal person to do this. She is Dakota with roots in the area: strong, resilient, proud, positive,” Wasicuna said.

Allen will start her leg of the run on Dec. 25 at midnight, in honor of Wasicuna.

“He’s taught me so much just in one semester,” she said, “and has helped me heal with what’s happened in Mankato and reminds me of my purpose of why I came to Mankato in the first place.”