Dakota elders to lead conversation about future home of Inyan Sa, the sacred Red Rock, July 27

A group of Dakota elders will lead a conversation regarding the relocation of Inyan Sa, the sacred Red Rock. The conversation will take place Saturday, July 27, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at First Universalist Church, 3400 Dupont Ave. S., Minneapolis. A light lunch will be provided.

Here is the announcement:

You are cordially invited to a protocol-guided conversation about the future relocation and final placement of Inyan Sa, a granite boulder of immense significance to generations of Dakota people of the local area. Please join us as we collectively visualize a site commendation offered by a respected body of Dakota elders. Help us negotiate a non-adversarial, non political process to wisely arrive at a mediate consensus agreement regarding the permanent placement of Inyan Sa.

Sign next to In-Yan Sa in front of Newport United Methodist Church.

A brief history: Before settlers arrived, Inyan Sa (pronounced Eyah Sha) resided on the banks of the Mississippi  several miles south of what is now St. Paul. Dakota people would paint red stripes on the rock; it was a sacred site to offer prayers.

Early settlers saw the granite boulder as a significant landmark and began referring to the area simply as Red Rock. The early missionaries to the area were Methodists. In the 1860s they purchased several acres of land to create a camp meeting; the religious gathering became synonymous with the Red Rock. (While the camp has moved since that time, the name stuck. Red Rock Camp still exists today near Paynesville.)

For a while, the rock moved with the camp. It now resides in front of the Newport United Methodist Church (UMC).

Bishop Bruce R. Ough of the Minnesota Conference of the United Methodist Church committed in 2017 to return Inyan Sa to the Dakota people. The Methodists published an article on Aug. 10, 2017, with the headline: Returning the Red Rock: An act of healing and reconciliation. It read:

“We live in Dakota and Ojibwa lands—land systematically taken from the Dakota and Ojibwa through treaties violated or broken by the U.S. government, land long sacred to its native inhabitants,” said Bishop Ough. “Since the 2012 General Conference, our Minnesota Conference Commission on Native American Ministry has been preparing us to walk the path of peace and reconciliation with the Dakota people and to heal the lingering wounds form the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War. This is the moment for the Minnesota Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church to lead the entire state down this path of healing and reconciliation. This is the moment to return [Inyan Sa]. This would be a powerful and just step toward peace and harmony.”

But it’s been a difficult road and a learning process.

Dakota people and communities have differing opinions on where to move Inyan Sa. Methodists don’t want to return Inyan Sa in a way that creates harm and divisions in the Dakota community. Meanwhile the Methodists have big challenges of their own, a potential schism over LGBTQ issues completely unrelated to the Red Rock, but still a big time and energy drain.

Keep them all in your thoughts and prayers.

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