Fort Snelling Bearing Witness Retreat Planned for November; Update on White Earth Environmental Project

Fort Snelling 1844 (Photo from Wikipedia)
Fort Snelling 1844 (Wikipedia)

Fort Snelling is an important symbol of the domination and genocide the Dakota and other Native American peoples suffered at the hands of the U.S. government and white settlers. It is a history that needs to be remembered, mourned, and repaired.

Clouds in Water Zen Center is planning a “Fort Snelling Bearing Witness Retreat” this Fall for those interested in learning more about this history and seeking skillful ways to respond to the ongoing impact of historic trauma. The Retreat is open to people of any religious tradition. Healing Minnesota Stories is supporting this important work.

The Retreat is Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 17-19.

The retreat will be based on the three tenets of the Zen Peacemaker Order:

  1. Not-Knowing, giving up fixed ideas about ourselves and the universe
  2. Bearing Witness to the suffering of the world
  3. Taking Action that arises from the first two Tenets

The retreat will include: time for deep listening to Dakota speakers, visits to Fort Snelling and other Dakota sacred sites, and time for silent meditation. There is a $300 cost to register, but the retreat is free for any Native American people who want to participate.

For more information, see this Bearing Witness Retreat Flyer.

Update on White Earth Legacy Funding

We reported in our Feb. 26 blog about efforts to organize precinct caucus resolutions to assure that Minnesota tribes had equal access to Legacy funds for environmental projects. Here is an update which seems to indicate ongoing anti-Indian bias.

As a refresher, a Dec. 15 Star Tribune editorial explained the problem: The White Earth Nation had successfully submitted a $2.2 million proposal to the Lessard Sams Council last year. It would have funded a conservation project to protect more than 2,000 acres of forest, prairie and wetlands. However, the legislature stripped the money out of the final bill. The editorial said: “A dubious explanation given — that the project would take the land off property rolls, an objection that hasn’t halted other projects that do the same — raised regrettable questions about bias toward American Indian communities.”

Here is the update from an email sent by our friend Christopher Knopf, who attended the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday. The White Earth proposal got another hearing.

[The] Committee adopted a resolution introduced by Republican Rep. Denny McNamara to strip White Earth Nation out of the funding bill and give the project to Minnesota DNR. That’s right.  The House committee wants to fund the project, but not fund an American Indian tribe.

Here is a Fact Sheet on the project. For more information, contact Chris at 651.999.9565 or

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