I recognize that I am a participant in an unlawful occupation of traditional land. My home studio lies 10 miles from Bdote—the confluence of the Wakpá Tháŋka (Mississippi) and Mnísota Wakpá (Minnesota) rivers—the ancestral genesis and contemporary homeland of the Dakota people. This place has deep historical, cultural, and spiritual significance to these first people of Mni Sóta Maḳoce, the land where the waters reflect the sky.
I honor with gratitude the countless generations of Dakota elders and youth who shaped and continue to shape this beautiful region with the intentional stewardship brought forth by seeing the land, water, and all inhabitants of both as family.
Despite the U.S. government’s genocidal state policy, deceptive treaty practices resulting in land theft, broken promises and unpaid debts, violent forced removal, boarding schools, concentration camps, and the intentional erasure of language and identity, the Dakota people have survived and continue to steward their ancestral land. Dakota Wicohan offers a brief history of this timeline, and Bdote Memory Map is an invaluable deep dive.
This land is also home to the Anishinaabe and other Indigenous peoples who make up a vibrant community that shares a long and complex history in the region. These Indigenous communities remain at the forefront of climate action, the local uprising for racial equity, and the education of all residents regarding the true history of this land.
Here are just a few ways to support Dakota and Indigenous folks in Minnesota today:
- Buy your next read from Birch Bark Books, an independent Native-owned bookstore and locus for Native intellectual life (they have an amazing selection of children’s books written by Indigenous authors). For more great Native authors and illustrators, check out Black Bears and Blueberries Publishing!
- Make a reservation at the lauded Owamni restaurant by the Sioux Chef, overlooking OwamniYomni (St. Anthony Falls). (You can also support North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems (NāTIFS), founded by the Sioux Chef.)
- Enjoy the works of Marlena Myles (Spirit Lake Dakota), an artist and publisher based in St. Paul using design to teach the Indigenous history of Mní Sota.
- You can check out other Indigineous artists at All My Relations Arts, a gallery on Franklin Avenue, the American Indian Cultural Corridor’ of Minneapolis. The area is home to tribal offices and the Minneapolis American Indian Center. MAIC is also where you’ll find Gatherings Cafe featuring Indigenous ingredients creatively prepared by chef Brian Yazzie (Diné/Navajo) and the Woodland Crafts Gift Shop.
- For even more Indigenous ingredients, head to Four Sisters Farmers Market featuring native-run farms and food producers on Thursdays from early June through late October.
- Listen to Bluedog, a Minnesota-based blues band fronted by Joni Buffalohead (Bdewakantowan/Dakota) exploring the blues from a Native perspective.
- Donate to Dakota Wicohan, bringing the rich historical and cultural heritage of Minnesota’s Dakota people to sixth graders across the state with their Mni Sóta Maḳoce curriculum, centering the teachings of Dakota scholars and educators.
- Discover the work of Dream of Wild Health, an intertribal nonprofit serving the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Native American community by teaching Native youth about traditional Native plants and their culinary, medicinal, and spiritual use on their farm in Hugo, MN. They also have an incredible program dedicated to saving 200+ varieties of seeds from Indigenous gardeners.
Curious about this land acknowledgement?
Naming and honoring the past, present, and future Indigenous stewards of the land on which we live and work is a small part of a personal decolonization/reindiginization practice, especially as descendants of occupiers. This is an ongoing effort to reject settler society’s history of erasure and dysconsciousness and instead follow Indigenous leadership in cultivating and spreading awareness of historical truth, Native sovereignty, and environmental justice.
Land acknowledgements become powerful when paired with authentic reflection, informed action (including voluntary land taxes and resisting Line 3), sincere relationships, and continued support of Indigenous organizations and individuals working to remember, reclaim, and reconnect with themselves, their communities, and their land.
Interested in finding out which communities you can honor in your own decolonization practice?Explore the community-powered Native Land Map, and check out the Guide and Call to Acknowledgment from the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (a grassroots, people-powered action network dedicated to creating a just and welcoming world). The Native Governance Center also offers an excellent guide on how to talk about Native nations, as well as a series of articles on important practices and reflections beyond Land Acknowledgment.