These are Dakota homelands
“Indigenous people are not relics of the past. We are still here, and we continue to demonstrate our talents and gifts amidst a backdrop of ongoing colonialism and oppression. We are worth celebrating.” —Native Governance Center
We are on Dakota homelands
Wakpá Tháŋka or Haha Wakpa is the Dakota name for the river that connects all waters and all lives where we live. We live among the traditional homelands of the Dakota people who know in this place their origin at Bdoté, the confluence of rivers; the burial grounds of their ancestors or Makapaha at Indian Mounds Park and elsewhere; and the home of hundreds of generations who stewarded this place for thousands of years, and who continue to steward this place in the present. While these have long been Dakota homelands, Minnesota has also been home to, nurtured and been nurtured by many other Indigenous nations, including the Ojibwe and the Ho Chunk.
Indigenous people are still here, even though the State of Minnesota and the United States government committed genocide, forced them into exile and broke treaties. Despite the ongoing deep injustices of violence and stolen land, the first human caretakers of this place continue to be powerful protectors of these lands and waters.
We cannot restore the river without honoring Indigenous ancestors and Indigenous presence here, without learning from their stewardship practices and working together. Indigenous communities, these lands and waters hold memories, stories, names and lessons. We look back at that long history with respect, and we know our work must repair and build relationships, must be the transformative restoration of connections between and among land and people.
Connections to our work
As a non-Native-led organization working on land stolen from the Dakota people, FMR’s mission to protect, enhance and restore the Mississippi River and its watersheds in the Twin Cities region is inherently intertwined with the work of our Indigenous neighbors and peers.
Our organization is striving to better uplift Indigenous knowledge and voices. While we are working to take action today, we are learning from our past mistakes, and we commit to doing this work intentionally over many years. FMR is committed to expanding our relationships with Indigenous communities and growing our work in more equitable ways for the long term. The following points highlight what we are currently working on:
- Building relationships with Indigenous-led organizations, establishing partnerships, and incorporating more compensated feedback from Indigenous-led organizations on the way we do our restoration and advocacy.
- Restoring Wakáŋ Tipi/Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary with important Indigenous plant species in ongoing collaboration with Lower Phalen Creek Project.
- Adding a section to all natural resource management plans that describes opportunities to incorporate culturally significant plant species and restoration strategies.
- Engaging with the National Park Service Cultural Resources Program Manager and Tribal partners to ensure that all restoration projects respect the historical and cultural significance of the sites where we work.
- Developing curriculum to engage youth in place-based learning, explore personal and cultural connections to land and nature, discover the concept of environmental stewardship, and introduce the history of the land we occupy through land acknowledgments.
- Beginning to think about land reparations in our work with local government entities, like advocating for acknowledgment of this land's history and a commitment to explore reparations for the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board’s stolen land.
We acknowledge that, while interconnected, there are other inequities we need to address in our community as well. We invite you to learn more about the ways FMR is engaged in equity work, and we welcome all suggestions and feedback on how we function as an ally to Indigenous communities and other communities of color.
We are actively interested in building relationships with new groups who would like to work together, and opening space for anonymous feedback on our efforts. Please fill out this form to get in touch with FMR, and if requested, a member of our staff will respond to your message as soon as possible.
Get involved and learn more
There are eleven federally recognized tribal governments within the state of Minnesota. Of those, four are Dakota Communities surrounding the Twin Cities metro area. These are the Pezutazizi Oyate (Upper Sioux Community), Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Cansayapi Oyate (Lower Sioux Indian Community), and Tinta Wita (Prairie Island Indian Community). (See a full map of Native nations in Minnesota.) Of course, not all Indigenous people in Minnesota are affiliated with these tribal governments, and some groups are seeking federal recognition, like the Mendota.
Below is a short, non-comprehensive list of Indigenous organizations present in the Twin Cities area, and resources to learn more and support their work.
Learn about this Dakota place
• Bdote Memory Map online experience
• Exploring Dakota Lands and Waters online experience through Big River Journey
• Why Treaties Matter online exhibit
• Wakáŋ Tipi blog post
• Mni Sota: Dakota Sacred Waters video
• Waters to the Sea Stories — Dakota Place and Kinship with the Mississippi River video
• The Lasting Legacy of Place Names video
• Beginning Dakota language, the Dakota Dictionary, and in-person learning
• Mni Sota Makoce book by Gwen Westerman & Bruce White (for more reading, check out local bookstore Birchbark Books' collections of Dakota/Lakota books and nature/science)
What you can do
• Change the narrative — Reclaiming Native Truth: A Project to Dispel America’s Myths and Misconceptions
• Understand sovereignty — Videos from the Native Governance Center
• Work beyond land acknowledgments — Guide from the Native Governance Center
• Learn more about land reparations — Land Reparations & Indigenous Solidarity Toolkit from Resource Generation
Local organizations, cultural centers and resources to support
• American Indian Cultural Corridor
• American Indian Family Center
• Dakota Wicohan
• Dream of Wild Health
• Healing Place Collaborative
• Honor the Earth
• Indigenous Peoples Task Force
• Indigenous Roots
• Lower Phalen Creek Project
• Minneapolis American Indian Center
• Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center
• Minnesota Indigenous Business Alliance and business directory
• Native American Community Development Institute
• Native Governance Center
• Native Youth Arts Council via Little Earth Residents Association
• Oyate Hotanin: Voice of the People