Mankato in Mankato and in Radical Minneapolis

This Easter morning I was roused and shepherded myself into the shower and my finest garments for a trip to Mankato, Minnesota. You know, for Easter…brunch at the golf club.   And to visit my grandmother (she likes it when I spell the whole thing out), who is in hospice care at Mankato House, her nursing home.   It was my aunt Judy, my mom, my dad, and my self in the car.  All exceptionally intelligent people who thankfully don’t feel the need to reconcile our differing perceptions of the world, yet we all care about my grandmother enough to tolerate the trip.  That being said, it occurs to me that we were going to the golf club, her former golf club, out of a sense of tradition and deference to her, yet no one was willing to tell her that we were doing so, because we felt guilty that we aren’t on our death beds. (Are we?)  This is the world I was born into, this is the weak-hearted world of Scandinavian settler-culture I’ve inherited.  Ufdah.  None the less I love these people, and I’m sure they will understand if I treat them in the same way, and I’m sure I’ll feel guilty.

Anyway, my expectations were low, but I have to say that brunch was better than ever at the golf club.  My two bloody marys were stiff.  Mankato is the site of the largest hanging (lynching?) in U.S. history.  My mom and aunt who grew up there even talked about it in the car on the way out there.  There is an infamous etching of the event, the hanging of 38 Dakota men.  It was U.S. retribution for the Dakota War of 1862, in which the Dakota fought to defend their homeland from U.S. take over.   Mom and Judy talked about a poster they used to have of the etching.  My mom bought it for fifty cents through her school(?!!).  This shameful moment and its ever shifting memorialization in Mankato is, frankly, very fascinating to me.

Infamous illustration of largest lynching in U.S. History (Abe Lincoln approved).

It came up again this evening out on the upper deck of the Bedlam Theater in Minneapolis.  My dad conscientiously got me back to the West Bank in time to attend the Unsettling Ourselves Discussion Group there,  it’s a discussion “designed to create community, education, and organized networks for non-Dakota allies to act in solidarity with upcoming Dakota decolonization struggles.”  The discussion group is every Sunday until June.  I think there were seven of us there including the facilitator this Easter Sunday.  I am glad I went and looking forward to next Sunday.  Everyone in the group had valuable input answering the questions posed by the facilitator from the Unsettling Minnesota Collective.  How do we benefit from the colonization of this place?   We worked to talk about this question on a personal level, there is clearly a lot to delve into here.  We talked for a little while about the distinction between “settlers” and “colonizers” and I think I came to the personal conclusion that there is not much to be gained from trying to distinguish between the two.  In closing we each briefly addressed the question “What is your identity and why is it important to you?”   It was an interesting question for me because it has never been something that’s felt urgent for me to be able to articulate.  I think this is certainly a consequence of the privilege I’ve experienced in my life.   I am glad to work on the question, but it also has me wondering why so many of the people who I hang around with and admire don’t talk about identity, but talk about subjectivity?

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