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Horses and the Unity Ride for Peace

Updated on April 7, 2015

1898 Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition In Omaha, Nebraska

Broken Arm, of the Sioux/Dakota People, on display at the Fair
Broken Arm, of the Sioux/Dakota People, on display at the Fair | Source

The Dakota Nation of Canada and America

The Dakota Nation is one of the most active and productive First Nations in North America. Not only do the North Dakota bands woirk with other indigenous groups to produce a large amount of oil for American consumption, but the Canadian band offers the Unity Riders to encourage people of all origins to cooperate in spreading peace.

In America and Canada, we are all North Americans united by common languages, ancestries, and even participation in wars. We also have much to share across differing cultures and customs. We import and export billions of dollars worth of goods between the two nations. Medical patients from both nations travel to the other for treatments and medicines. Dakota Nation would like us to share more and end war and conflict for all time. Dakota people would like North America to be an example to the world.

Major Clusters of Dakota Nation Groups

show route and directions
A markerDakota Nation, Saskatchewan -
Whitecap Dakota First Nation School, Saskatchewan S0K 1K0, Canada
get directions

B markerDakota Nation, Manitoba -
Dakota Ojibway PS, 702 Douglas Street, Brandon, MB R7A, Canada
get directions

C markerSpirit Lake Tribe (Eastern Dakota), North Dakota -
Spirit Lake Tribe, 20 Short ave, Saint Michael, ND 58370, USA
get directions

D markerStanding Rock Sioux (includes Dakota) -
Standing Rock Indian Reservation, Central Corson, SD, USA
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E markerSisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Lake Traverse Reservation -
Sisseton, SD 57262, USA
get directions

The Unity Ride - Agenda and Schedule

In 1996, Chief Arvol Looking Horse led horsemen in a Unity Ride and Day of Prayer. The Bigfoot Riders from the Wahpeton Dakota Reservation rode with him from Saskatchewan Province in Canada to Grey Horn Butte, Wyoming (called Devils Tower on today's maps).

Since that time, a Unity Ride prayer has been hosted in other countries, including Ireland, South Africa, Australia, and Japan. The chief was spiritual led to pray to the Creator to heal the Earth and to the relationships between her people.

As Chief of the Lakota/Dakota,/Nakota Nation of Sioux, Looking Horse knows that this healing is important for remedy of the long past of centuries-old woundedness among Native North Americans and Euorpean-Americans.

The 2013 Unity Ride began at Albany, New York on July 27 in order to join with Eastern US Native American groups and will make several stops, including a major visit at the United Nations site in NYC.

The Haudenousaunee (Iroquois Confederacy) and non-Indian friends launched two long lines of canoes in Troy NY on the day following the horse riders' start, in order to accompany the riders down the Hudson River Valley.

Both men and women paddle the canoes in memory of the Two Row Wampum Treaty. Canoes and horses will meet along the way several times at events hosted by communities along the route to NYC.

The International Code for Sacred Sites was scheduled for reading and presentation at the United Nations on August 9, 2013.

At least two pow wow-type festivals will be visited on the journey, aling with a World Walk for Peace, and the Unity Riders would like to travel on to Washington DC.

For the full agenda of the combined Unity Ride and Day of Prayer, see the schedule.

Selected Stops on the Unity Ride

show route and directions
A markerTroy NY -
Troy, NY, USA
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B markerAlbany NY -
Albany, NY, USA
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C markerWoodstock NY -
Woodstock, NY, USA
get directions

D markerHudson River Maritime Museum -
Hudson River Maritime Museum, 50 Rondout Landing, Kingston, NY 12401, USA
get directions

E markerPoughkeepsie NY -
Poughkeepsie, NY, USA
get directions

F markerBeacon NY -
Beacon, NY 12508, USA
get directions

G markerUnited Nations NYC -
United Nations, 1 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017, USA
get directions

Two Row Wampum

The Two Row Wampum belt is the symbolic recording made by the Haudenosaunee people. Traditionally, wampum is a currency for trade. It is also a means of recording important events.

The Two row Wampum belt records the first agreement made between European explorers and Native North American Indian Nations on Turtle Island (North America).

The year 2013 is the 400th anniversary of this first covenant treaty made between Indigenous Peoples and European explorer-settlers in 1613.

Dakota First Nation

Apple and Corn Festival in Morden, Manitoba
Apple and Corn Festival in Morden, Manitoba | Source

"Why Can't There be Peace?"Jessie Higheagle

American Dakotas

Far more Dakota people live in two Canadian Provinces than in the small groups in the USA. The Indian Removal Acts of the 1800s and the Dakota War of 1862 made this so.

The Dakota War of 1862 was a headache and a heartache for Abraham Lincoln, a man already run into the ground by the war, politics, and family tragedies.

No matter what he decided as punishment or not punishment for the Dakotas, Lincoln would have been hated more than he already was hated by factions and special interests. As it was, the President was expected to execute hudnreds of Native Amerians attempting to defend their land ven after being starved out and unpaid for it by the Minnesota government.

The Santee Sioux (Dakota) in Minnesota sold 24+ million acres to the US Federal Government and were not paid for most of it.

Settlers arrived and the Dakota were pushed off their lands by the State. Their remaining agricultural crops along thir new home the Minnesota River failed and federal Indian agents held back food, because under President Lincoln, they could have no more kickbacks.

Many Dakotas died of starvation, including children. The remaining men, with little else to lose, began a war against the state and national givernments.

After an all out Indian war, Lincoln chose to hang 38 instead of 303 Dakotas. Descendants of the remiander of the 303 that were shipped around three or four states after serving prison terms live today in South Dakota. There, they are blocking roads needed to transport parts for the Keystone pipeline that will transport polluting coal tar sands. The blockade is in protest most of all for illegal transportation activities and next, pollution.


Remembering the 38, Forgiving the Execution

In remembrance and tribute to the execution of 38 Dakotas, the Sacred Dakota Unity Riders complete a yearly pilgrimage on horseback in winter to the execution site at Fort Snelling in Menkato, Minnesota.

Th journey is long enough for the men on horseback - 300+ miles - but women also walk the Trail of Tears road to Menkato. When they arrive, they cry what they feel are Sacred Tears for the executed men.

The Unity Ride, commemorating history 1613 - 2013

Dakota People Now and Then

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site in North DakotaRound up on the Independence Indian Range. North Dakota. NOTE the Bison Bull in the center of the herd.Execution of 38 Dakota Indians in, Mankato, Minnesota in 1862, per Lincoln's decision.
Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site in North Dakota
Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site in North Dakota | Source
Round up on the Independence Indian Range. North Dakota. NOTE the Bison Bull in the center of the herd.
Round up on the Independence Indian Range. North Dakota. NOTE the Bison Bull in the center of the herd. | Source
Execution of 38 Dakota Indians in, Mankato, Minnesota in 1862, per Lincoln's decision.
Execution of 38 Dakota Indians in, Mankato, Minnesota in 1862, per Lincoln's decision. | Source

Unity Ride 2010 - Arrival at Winnipeg

© 2013 Patty Inglish


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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 2 years ago from North America

      @Fr John Nelson - Thank you for that information. It is wonderful to be honoring Gus High Eagle and I admire all your efforts.

    • profile image

      Fr John Nelson 2 years ago

      I was the man who came to Manitoba to invite the riders east. The Riders have made National History by visiting the last remaining Calvary in the USA. See Unity Ride Newtown Connecticut on you tube. Now we are preparing to honor Gus High Eagle with another ride east.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from North America

      The Unity Riders will have traveled 4,000 miles to arrive at Newtown, Connecticut on Monday Aug. 5, 2013 at noon to give support to the families and town of the children killed at Sandy Hook in December 2012. The Unity Riders will meet the 2nd Company Governor's Horse Guard (founded 1808) there. and a ceremony will follow. At least 200 canoes on the Hudson River will also meet the riders of both units. The news says about the event:

      "On that day, one of the nation's oldest cavalries will greet the descendants of Sitting Bull in the spirit of peace."

      That's progress for us all.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from North America

      Thanks for all the great repsonses!

      Chief Gus Higheagle was confronted by a man on August 2 on the Unity Ride, implying how great the US 7th Cavalry was to fight "Indians" and how it was still an active unit. The Chief told him if the unit was really still operating in the US, then they should surrender their flag (disband). The man became angry and walked away. Maybe he was a historical reenactor. Still, the way he approached the Chief was harsh.

      Folks involved in the American Indian Movement (AIM) seem a little more aggressive in their tone while supporting the Unity Ride. I sincerely pray that there is no attack of any kind this week. AIM on Facebook writes about the Dakota going to Iran for political support, and I sense growing anger all around. Gus Higheagle is not part of that visit, to my knowledge.

      Peace-keeping seems to be taken as an attack by some people! Probably, because it is not submissive subtle peace-keeping, but a shake-my-hand-as-an-equal peace-keeping. I hope people shake hands this week and don't use them to punch!

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      A chilling, goosebump history. Why is peace-keeping so obvious to a few of us and so unvalued by leaders of nations????

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

      Such an enjoyable read -- and you've taught me some history I was totally unaware of and I tend to read anything Indian related. I have had occasion to associate with some elders of the Lakota Sioux and admired them greatly. In their ceremonies they never fail to honor U.S. soldiers and war dead and pledge their allegiance to the United States. Seeing how Indians have been treated in the past -- just watching them is a study in "how can they do it?" Best/Sis

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Wow! The Unity Ride is quite an intense event. You are so right when you say that we "have much to share across differing cultures and customs". I long for the day when it no longer matters who we are or what we are - the day when we are all simply referred to as people - not described as being one thing or another. I'm inspired by reading about the Indians - what they have endured and what they offer to the world by example of their mindset and spirit.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      The Unity Ride is very meaningful. I hope the Dakota will soon see a great positive rewards for their peaceful protests. Thank you also for the pictures. Voted Up!