October 4, 2012
The film "Dakota 38" will be screened at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, in Room AV-1 of the Alcuin Library at Saint John's University. Following the screening, Jim Miller and Alberta Iron Cloud Miller of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation will lead a discussion of the Dakota history and spirituality introduced in the film.
The program is sponsored by the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning in collaboration with the department of peace studies of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University. It is free and open to the public.
In 2005, Jim Miller had a dream about riding on horseback across the great plains of South Dakota. Prior to waking, he found himself at a riverbank in Minnesota and saw 38 of his Dakota ancestors hanged. Miller said that, at the time, he knew nothing of the largest mass execution in United States history, which was ordered by President Abraham Lincoln on Dec. 26, 1862, following the Dakota War.
"When you have dreams, you know when they come from the creator," Miller said. "As any recovered alcoholic, I made believe that I didn't get it. I tried to put it out of my mind, yet it's one of those dreams that bothers you night and day."
Four years later, after embracing the message of the dream, Miller and a group of riders retraced the 330-mile route of his dream on horseback from Lower Brule, S.D., to Mankato, Minn., to arrive at the site of the hanging on the anniversary of the execution. "Dakota 38," which documents their journey, is a story of hope and healing as they confront the painful history it represents and the plight of their communities today.