Bde Maka Ska Dedication, Mayo Clinic Apologizes for 1862 Grave Robbing, Indigenous Food Tasting, and Other News

Inbox is full with news and events:

  • Dedication for restoring the name Bde Maka Ska set for Saturday.
  • Belated Apology: In 1862, Dr. William Mayo stole the remains of Cut Nose, one of the 38 Dakota men hung in Mankato following the U.S. Dakota War. One hundred and fifty six year’s later, the Mayo Clinic apologizes.
  • Indigenous Food Tasting Oct. 8
  • Mindful direct action training set at Common Ground Meditation Center Saturday.
  • Water protectors face felony trespass charges as they try to stop DAPL in Louisiana, an example of how states are trying to stifle protest with stiffer penalties.

Details below.

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Mde Maka Ska Four Sacred Directions Water Walk this Friday

The annual Four Sacred Directions Water Walk at Mde Maka Ska (White Earth Lake, formerly Lake Calhoun) will be held this Friday, May 25, starting at 6:15 a.m. Here is the Facebook event, text is copied below.

You are cordially invited to join us upon the south shore of Mde Maka Ska (White Earth Lake), at South Thomas Beach, as we gather to walk for the health, vitality, and spirit of Mni Wakan (Sacred Water).

Our clockwise route around Mde Maka Ska will be in honor of and prayer for the sustainability and increasing recovery of clean, fresh water. The Four Directions Water Walk will respectfully embrace the fluid heart of the most populous community in Mni Sota (Land of Misty Water).

The water walk will precede and connect with the opening ceremony for the 10th Annual Mde Maka Ska Canoe Nations Gathering. Your participation will emit a resounding message to the world regarding our resurgent relationship with the sacredness of water now and for generations to come.

For questions, email wakinyan.lapointe@gmail.com

(Note: The lake’s name is Bde Maka Ska, but some prefer Mde Maka Ska, which has the same meaning.)

Predictable Push Back: D.J Tice’s Stale Arguments Against Reinterpreting Fort Snelling

Historic Fort Snelling

Star Tribune columnist D.J. Tice offered predictable and flawed push back against needed truth telling at Fort Snelling.

Tice’s opinion piece — Fort Snelling: New Vision, Old Wounds — focuses on plans to renovate and reinterpret the Fort, plans which would give a prominent place to acts of injustice and cruelty that were part of Minnesota’s founding and whose legacy continues today. Plans would bring forward stories about the brutal concentration camp below the Fort that held Dakota women and children following the Dakota War of 1862, a camp where hundreds died. It would talk about the Dred Scott case and the fact that Scott was held at Fort Snelling.

This new narrative would challenge the political correctness of a prior age.

Tice uses several common arguments to push back against such truth telling.

  1. The Plan is Too Critical of the Past: Tice mixes the Fort Snelling debate in with recent efforts to remove Confederate statues in the south and to restore the name Bde Maka Ska to Lake Calhoun. He wraps them under the broad heading of the “new censorious spirit” of our age. (Censorious, according to Merriam Webster, mean hypercritical, fault finding, or carping. It’s basically a put down for those seeking change.)
  2. The Plan Needs More Historical “Balance”: Tice seems to argue that it’s okay to add some stories of past injustices, but apparently we shouldn’t overdo it. History needs to be balanced.
  3. The Plan Victimizes Veterans: Tice cites retired National Guard Gen. Richard C. Nash, raising concerns that the fort’s military history will be pushed aside and replaced with more painful stories.  This “zero-sum” thinking raises the fear that adding to the historical narrative unfairly diminishes the Fort and veterans’ stories.

Tice’s closing paragraphs argues for a blame-free and “balanced” historical narrative:

One might wish for an approach to history in which the very purpose is to try — not so much to condemn or to justify — but to understand the passions and motives of all peoples of the past. Yet maybe a truly balanced view of history has always been too much to expect.

It is, though, what Minnesota should strive for.

Tice’s narrative doesn’t go for balance. He prefers emotionally charged words, such as “censorious,” “score-settling,” “reproachful,” and “villainous whites and victimized minorities.” Continue reading

Pushback Against “Bde Maka Ska” Latest Example of White Privilege

The Star Tribune ran a disturbing Op/Ed Monday titled: I asked 350 people who live along or near Lake Calhoun about renaming it — The breakdown is 20 percent for and 80 percent against. Equally interesting are the reasons.

The author is critical of the proposed name change from Lake Calhoun to its original Dakota name, Bde Maka Ska (or Mde Maka Ska). Here are four examples of how the Op/Ed embodies white privilege.

#1: White voices matter most: The author, a CEO of  a venture capital group, starts out by telling us he talked to his “Lake Calhoun” neighbors to gauge their feelings about the name Bde Maka Ska. As he describes it, he polled  “virtually every homeowner who lives directly along Lake Calhoun, plus another couple hundred neighbors who live within a few blocks.”

The result? Some 80 percent were for keeping the name Lake Calhoun. The underlying premise here is that the voices that matter most are those who live closest to the Lake, those who are predominantly wealthy and white. They see themselves as entitled to preferential treatment. Did the author think it was important to talk to anyone but his immediate neighbors, say some Dakota people? Apparently not. Apparently their opinions do not matter.

The author says his neighbors “were overwhelmingly disgusted that public officials were spending all of this time and energy on the lake renaming issue when there are so many other pressing problems facing the community that need to be addressed.” This world view ignores the fact that people in other parts of the city might have different pressing issues which are equally valid for the city’s consideration. Continue reading

Public Art Honoring Cloud Man, Indigenous History, Planned Near Bde Maka Ska, Artists Selected

As the controversy over the installation and deconstruction of Scaffold in the Walker Sculpture Garden starts to settle, here’s an art project that celebrates Dakota history here in Minneapolis — their homeland.

A new pubic art project and gathering place is being planned to honor Mahpiya Wicasta/Cloud Man and reveal and celebrate the history of Heyata Otunwe, a village located on Bde Maka Ska from 1829-1839. (Bde Maka Ska is the original name for Lake Calhoun, and only recently has been restored.)

Last week, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the City of Minneapolis’ Art in Public Places program announced the artists selected to create the public art for this space.

  • Angela Two Stars – Descendant of Cloud Man (Mahpiya Wicasta), member of Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe, born and raised on the Lake Traverse reservation of Sisseton, SD. Currently lives in East Lansing, MI. Graduate of Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, MI with a BFA in Drawing and Printmaking.
  • Mona Smith – Visual and multimedia artist of Dakota heritage. Currently lives in Minneapolis. Artist lead and co-founder of Healing Place Collaborative, Owner of Allies: Media/Art, past program coordinator for the National Indian AIDS Media Consortium, and creator of the Bdote Memory Map.
  • Sandy Spieler – Visual artist. Currently lives in Minneapolis. Founder and director of the annual May Day Parade and Ceremony at Powderhorn Park, 30-year advocate for issues pertaining to water, and recipient of a Bush Foundation Leadership Fellowship.

The design theme is “Story Awakening;” the goal is to honor and educate visitors about the broader history and culture of the Dakota and other Indigenous peoples who frequented and resided in this area over time.

Mahpiya Wicasta/Cloud Man’s Village was on the southeast corner of Bde Maka Ska. An early map shows the village as extending slightly north of present day West 34th Street, south into current Lakewood Cemetery, and east past Fremont Avenue, according to a Park Board document.

The artists and design team will share concepts with the public this fall.

For more information:

Here is an excerpt on Mahpiya Wicasta/Cloud Man, excerpted with permission from Gwen Westerman and Bruce White’s book: Mni Sota Makoce: Land of the Dakota.

The Southwest Journal ran a piece titled: Lakeside art to honor Cloud Man Village.

Here is the Park Board’s community engagement plan and different concepts for site development for this project.

For more information about this public art project, contact Ann Godfrey. For the full announcement about the artists selection process, click here.

Minneapolis Park Board Moves Ahead on Bde Maka Ska Public Art Project

bde_maka_ska_historic_village_locationThe Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has issued a call for artists to submit ideas for a pubic art project on the southeastern side of Bde Maka Ska (Lake Calhoun) that would “celebrate the history and culture of the Dakota and Native American people and honor Mahpiya Wicasta (Cloud Man) and Heyata Otunwe (Village to the Side).” It has set informational meetings for the public and interested artists.
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Recommendations Advanced to Restore the Name Bde Maka Ska to Lake Calhoun; Fort Snelling Community Conversations

Bde Maka Ska
Bde Maka Ska

The lake we now call Lake Calhoun would return to its original Dakota name, Bde Maka Ska (White Earth Lake) under recommendations forwarded by a key citizens committee to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Those recommendations also propose creating an interpretative area on the south shore of Bde Maka Ska to commemorate Cloudman’s Village, the Dakota settlement that existed prior to the arrival of European settlers.

If the Park Board approves the name restoration, it would still need approval by the Hennepin County Board and go through a process involving the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Healing Minnesota Stories and the Saint Paul Interfaith Network (SPIN) have gone on record in support of the name restoration.

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