Your Ideas Sought on “Wakan Tipi Center”; Public Reading of The Capitol Play Project

The Lower Phalen Creek Project is seeking your thoughts/ideas/advice on the Wakan Tipi Interpretive Center that will be built at the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary located just east of downtown St. Paul.

Wakan Tipi, also known as Carver’s Cave, is a Dakota sacred site. It is part of the Dakota origin story; it was place where pregnant women came to give birth. It was an important gathering place. Animal petroglyphs lined the inside of the cave until the cave was mostly destroyed by railroad construction.

The Wakan Tipi Center aims to honor, interpret, and educate the community about Wakan Tipi, its rich Dakota history, and the natural history around the 27-acre nature sanctuary. The new Center will have educational, ceremonial, and meeting space, and many other possible amenities. Your comments to a survey will help shape the Center’s development.

The Capitol Play Project: A Public Reading Sept. 9

Healing Minnesota Stories recently learned about The Capitol Play Project, a Wonderlust Production. We got invited to talk to one of the producers, who was interested to know more about the debates over controversial art in the Capitol and how that affected people’s experience of participating in democracy there.

Here is the announcement:

  • Public reading of the script first draft: Saturday, September 9th at 12:30 p.m., Senate Hearing Room G15, Minnesota State Capitol
  • Fully staged performances: January 19 – February 3, 2018, various locations all around the Capitol Building

The Capitol Play Project will be a series of site-specific live performances at Minnesota’s State Capitol, exploring the world of our capitol through story, song and movement. Content will be generated with, and performed by, a cross-section of the capitol’s community—from politicians and staffers to civil servants, building maintenance crews, security, lobbyists, researchers, reporters, and citizens who come to the capitol to advocate. Behind the doors, beyond the politics, into the heart of a place that is defined by governance, but driven by the people who work there every day.

FYI Water Protectors: Governor Dayton is Holding Water Quality Town Hall Meetings

Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith have organized ten town hall meetings around the state giving Minnesotans an opportunity to discuss the water quality challenges, learn from experts, and engage with policymakers. The goal is to spur collaboration and action to improve Minnesota’s water quality 25 percent by 2025.

This is another opportunity for those opposed to the expanded tar sands pipeline through northern Minnesota (Enbridge Line 3) to engage with state leaders and make your voices heard. A major tar sands pipeline spill would set water quality back significantly. Enbridge, a Canadian oil transportation company, has proposed abandoning an existing and failing pipeline (Line 3) and installing a new and larger pipeline, including a partial reroute. The proposed route would cut right through the Mississippi headwaters region as well as prime wild ricing areas. (For more background, click here.)

Here are the cities and dates for the Town Hall meetings.

More news and events follow.

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StoryCorps is Coming to Town: Seeks to Amplify Marginalized Voices; Owámni Falling Water Festival This Saturday

As part of MPR’s 50th anniversary, the national StoryCorps program will be coming to the Twin Cities area from September 7 to October 6 to record our stories — the humerus, the tragic, and the inspiring. StoryCorps mission is “to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.”

StoryCorps is committed to reach out and involve people from diverse backgrounds in the project. (See 2016 MPR story: For StoryCorps, seeking more diverse participation laid foundation for growth.) To that end, StoryCorps sent an advance team to St. Paul earlier this month to ask for help from local organization that work with marginalized communities. It is giving them an opportunity to sign up for slots before opening registration to the general public. If your organization is interested, contact Felix Lopez at

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Registration Open for Mni Ki Wakan: World Indigenous Peoples’ Decade of Water Summit

Registration is open through Friday, July 21, for the Mni Ki Wakan: World Indigenous Peoples’ Decade of Water Summit. The two-day summit, August 1-2 (Tuesday and Wednesday) will be held at First Universalist Church, 3400 Dupont Ave. S. in Minneapolis. (“Mni Ki Wakan” means “Water is Sacred” in Dakota.)

For more information, see the event Facebook Page and the Mni Ki Wakan World Flyer.

Click here to register. The cost for individual registration is $150 ($100 for students). They also offer group rates.

The summit grew out of humble beginnings, starting about a decade ago with Mde Maka Ska Canoe Nations Gathering. More recently, the LaPointe family held community conversations around the restoration of the name Bde Maka Ska (White Earth Lake) to Lake Calhoun, and what that could mean for the broader culture. The idea for the summit emerged from that dialogue.

The summit will be “an indigenous youth-centered and indigenous peoples-oriented call for continued and deepened action.” According to the Facebook Page:

Across the world’s vast regions of rainforests, deserts, mountains, oceans, lakes, and river ways, flowing below ground and above, the vision of the Mni Ki Wakan: World Indigenous Peoples Decade of Water Summit seeks to co-create a collective indigenous-designed map and transformative world agenda for the future. The 10-year international indigenous water summit will bring and elevate the collective wisdom, intelligence, and futurities of indigenous peoples in the world narrative. In following the life-giving spirit of water, we will enliven a more transformative and ecologically sustainable future. Because when the inherent rights of all life are respected and protected, so too, can Mother Earth be recognized as the one true home of all life.

Organizers plan to make it an annual event for the next decade.

Organizers also plan a pre-summit walk around Mde Maka Ska on Monday, July 31st, starting at 7 a.m., meeting near South Thomas Beach, 3700 Thomas Ave. S. See the flyer (above) for more details on the event.

Here is a link for a contact form for event organizers if you have questions.

Honor Dakota Sacred Sites, Mother Earth, During World Peace and Prayer Day, Wednesday, June 21

World Peace and Prayer Day events in the Twin Cities start at 6 a.m. at Indian Mounds Park, St. Paul. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

World Peace and Prayer Day events will be held all across the world on the Solstice, June 21; here in the Twin Cities people are invited to participate in a daylong event where they will travel to various Dakota sacred sites and related events.

In an email to the Minnesota Indian listserve, Juanita Espinosa gave the following schedule of local events:

  • Indian Mounds Regional Park at 6:00 a.m. – Beginning in the east. Indian Mounds Regional Park is home to six Native American burial mounds high atop 450 million-year-old limestone and sandstone bluffs overlooking downtown Saint Paul. The mounds serve as a reminder of Minnesota’s history for future generations. At least sixteen burial mounds originally existed on the bluff top. Nineteen more were located further down the bluff above Wakan Tipi, also known as Carver’s Cave.
  • Powderhorn Park at 9:00 a.m. Gather for the Mni Wiconi Kids Run, which will be held in honor of Wastewin Gonzales and sponsored by Juanita Vargas, her daughter. Wastewin was born in her water sac; she came into the world complete.  She walked on as a young mother,  17 months after the birth of her daughter,  who now wishes to carry on with her mother’s desire to encourage young ones.  This run is for children 12 and under.  It is not a race.  Juanita’s aunties will assist her in preparing the young ones for the run around the lake in Powderhorn Park.
  • Nicollet Island at 12:00 noon, near Owamni Falls. Nicollet Island is the only inhabited island on the Mississippi River. This forty-eight-acre wonderland is a bucolic refuge, hiding right under the nose of Downtown. Many don’t even notice it as they drive over the Hennepin Avenue bridge to Northeast Minneapolis on the East Bank of the Mississippi, but it contains many marvelous secrets.  Here we will offer prayers to the waters.
  • Cold Water Springs at 3:00 p.m. Mni Owe Sni served as an important crossroads for Native Americans.
  • Oheyawahi/Pilot Knob at 6:00 p.m. Known to Dakota people as Oheyawahi, “the hill much visited,” Pilot Knob is a place of distinctive historical, cultural, and environmental importance, a sacred site, a landmark of Minnesota’s beginnings. Pilot Knob is located on the east end of the Mendota Bridge, south of Highway 55 in Mendota Heights, Minnesota. A portion of the hill is included in Acacia Park Cemetery. Here we will end our day, if you wish to bring a dish and/or a gift to share with others, you are welcome to do so.We will set up tables and gather at the circle directly north of the parking lot.

For more on the history of World Peace and Prayer Day, keep reading. Continue reading

Mni ki Wakan: Indigenous Peoples’ Decade of Water Summit

Brothers Wakinyan and Thorne LaPointe (Lakota) and their family are moving forward with plans to hold the first Mni Ki Wakan: Indigenous Peoples’ Decade of Water Summit later this summer. It will be an indigenous-oriented, youth-led, two-day conference, Aug. 1-2. Allies are invited.

More details coming soon on how to register and the conference itself, but right now there is a pre-Summit fundraiser being held Saturday, June 24, 6-9 p.m. at First Universalist Church, 3400 Dupont Ave. S., Minneapolis. The fundraiser will include indigenous foods (provided by the Sioux Chef), indigenous rights defenders, artists, presentations, and a short documentary related to the upcoming Summit.

Your presence and donations will support the inauguration of this Summit, which will become an annual event. Here is the Facebook Page for the fundraiser. Here is some additional background on the history behind Mni Ki Wakan: Indigenous Peoples’ Decade of Water Summit. (Click on the Facebook page for more.)

The Mni Ki Wakan: Indigenous Peoples’ Decade Water Summit emerged from humble beginnings more than a decade ago. With minimal or no funding support, a local youth program resolved to embark upon multi-day canoe expeditions. Paddling the ancient water ways of Dakota ancestors, our indigenous youth paddled every twist and turn of the original maps known to our predecessors since time immemorial. Armed with a map that portrayed the numerous small and large water ways and water bodies of the Great Lakes region, youth set out to explore, discover, experience, and recover the healthy perspectives and wise insights of our indigenous predecessors.

Amidst these enchanting explorations emerged a flagship event known as the Mde Maka Ska Canoe Nations Gathering. Today, it still engages and contributes to youth and community enrichment upon the surface of the largest lake in Minnesota’s largest city, Minneapolis.