Native American History in the Minneapolis Area: An Update

An upcoming survey on Native American history in Minneapolis will include everything from precolonial history to the birth of the American Indian Movement here.
An upcoming survey on Native American history in Minneapolis will include everything from precolonial history to the birth of the American Indian Movement here.

Efforts to tell the 13,000 year history of Native Americans in what is now Minneapolis took another step forward, with researchers releasing a draft chapter.

Researchers from Two Pines Resource Group are still doing interviews and collecting information, but the project is on a short timeline. They are looking for information on the places, spaces, people and history important to Native peoples in the area. This includes sacred places, information on culture and arts, language revitalization, politics and activism, religious organizations, and Native American “firsts,” such as the first elected officials. All that and more will be included in their study.

The city held a public meeting Tuesday, April 12, at the Minneapolis American Indian Center to continue getting community feedback. (We wrote about this research effort in an earlier blog.)

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Telling Minneapolis’ Hidden Native American History: A Difficult Road Ahead

The City of Minneapolis is working to research the sacred places and untold stories of the Dakota people and other American Indian peoples who lived here prior to white settlement — and who continue to live here today. City staff held a kick-off event Tuesday night at All My Relations Gallery to announce the project and get some initial community feedback.

About 50 people attended Tuesday’s meeting, at least half were Native Americans. They gave city staff an earful.

Sheldon Wolfchild of Lower Sioux and several other people mentioned how it is difficult for western researchers to get their minds around Native ways of thinking. It is not just certain spots here and there that are sacred to the Dakota people, he said: “Every inch is sacred to us.”

Several people talked about the importance of recognizing the validity of Native peoples’ oral traditions (and not just depending on written documents of white historians.) “Go talk to the Dakota elders,” Many Horses said. “They have the knowledge.” Continue reading