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Kenneth Freed '83, '87MusM: A maestro commemorates Native history.

This week, as Americans celebrate Thanksgiving and National Native American Heritage Day, some Minnesotans gathered for a more somber occasion as well: a musical commemoration of the US-Dakota War of 1862.

Minnesota’s other civil war” was a bloody conflict between Dakota (also called Sioux) warriors and white settlers, joined by the US army. It ended in the town of Mankato with the hanging of 38 Indians—the largest mass execution in US history—and Minnesota’s governor calling for the extermination or expulsion of the Dakota people.

This year, for the 150th anniversary, music director Kenneth Freed ’83, ’87MusM, and the Mankato Symphony Orchestra launched their season with an “act of communal healing” on November 18. Beginning with a traditional Native American prayer, the performance included a flute concerto, “Trail of Tears,” and a Holocaust-themed oratorio, “To Be Certain of the Dawn.” Says Freed in a TV interview: “This is a message of hope and healing.”

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