Dakota Elders Support Rematriation of Sacred Red Rock, In-Yan Sa, to Wakan Tipi

Wolfchild talks about In-Yan Sa.

In-Yan Sa, the sacred red rock of the Dakota people should be moved to Wakan Tipi (also known as Carver’s Cave), one of the Dakota people’s sacred sites, Dakota elders say.

Sheldon Wolfchild (Dakota/Lower Sioux) has been leading Dakota efforts to “rematriate” the rock. (Rematriation because the rock is part of Mother Earth.) He visited Dakota elders in South Dakota and North Dakota to speak about the Red Rock and get their feedback. “This is an apolitical process,” Wolfchild said. “It is the elders who are in charge of our sacred sites and objects.”

The elders gave a positive response, and backed plans to move In-Yan Sa to Wakan Tipi.  Wolfchild announced the elders support at a meeting of Dakota elders and allies on Saturday at All My Relations Gallery.

In-Yan Sa used to reside near the Mississippi River near the Dakota village of Kaposia. United Methodist missionaries took the rock after the Dakota-U.S. War of 1862. The rock became a symbol of their church camps. The rock now sits outside Newport United Methodist Church, and calls have been growing from Dakota people for its return.

Bruce R. Ough, the Bishop for the United Methodist Church in Minnesota, agreed earlier this year to restore In-Yan Sa to the Dakota people. While that was a significant milestone, that commitment required serious conversation within both the Minnesota Annual Conference of the UMC and the Dakota community about next steps. Continue reading

Dakota Elders to Meet to Discuss Return of “In-Yan Sha” (the Sacred Red Rock) to the Dakota People

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

On Saturday, May 13, Dakota traditional spiritual elders will gather to discuss the return of In-Yan Sha (the sacred Red Rock) to the Dakota people. The meeting will include a discussion of In-Yan Sha’s history and an announcement of the sacred site where the elders would like In-Yan Sha placed.

This meeting will be open to the public with limited seating. It will take place from 1:30 – 5:00 p.m. at All My Relations Gallery, 1414 East Franklin Ave., Minneapolis. Those are welcome who come with a good heart, and with respect for the elders, In-Yan Sha, and Dakota sacred sites.

In-Yan Sha is connected to the Dakota origin story. Methodist settlers took the rock in the 1800s; it became a symbol for the Methodist church camp. The seizure of the Red Rock is one symbol of how settler culture tried to assimilate and erase Dakota culture and religion. The rock has moved several times, and now resides in front of the Newport United Methodist Church (UMC). Bishop Bruce R. Ough of the UMC Minnesota Conference has expressed his interest in returning the rock; efforts have started to do this healing work in a good way.

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Methodist Bishop Commits to Returning Sacred Red Rock to the Dakota People

Sign next to Eyah Shaw in front of Newport United Methodist Church. (Photo from the Church’s website.)

The Bishop of the United Methodist Church (UMC) in Minnesota, Bruce R. Ough, has committed to restoring Eyah Shaw — the sacred red rock — to the Dakota people. (In Dakota, Eyah means “rock” and Shaw means “red.”)

Before settlers arrived, Eyah Shaw was on the east bank of the Mississippi River several miles south of what is now St. Paul. Filmmaker and researcher Sheldon Wolfchild (Dakota) says Eyah Shaw is a sacred relative to Dakota people and deeply connected to their creation story. Dakota people traditionally would paint the boulder-sized rock with red stripes.

Early settlers saw the boulder as a significant landmark and began referring to the area simply as Red Rock. Red Rock’s early missionaries 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 — and the rock — have moved since that time, the name stuck. Red Rock Camp still exists today near Paynesville.

The rock itself now resides outside the Newport UMC, with local historic designation.

Wolfchild said the Dakota people had other sacred rocks in the area, but settlers destroyed them. He has thanked the UMC for protecting Eyah Shaw, but says it is now time for the rock to come home to its people. Continue reading

Local Methodists to Address Doctrine of Discovery; Mde Maka Ska Community Conversation; Renaming the Jeffers Petroglyphs; Creation Stories Film Screening

Upcoming Events

  • Screening of the documentary: Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code. Come see the film and join the post-film discussion. The film is being hosted by the United Methodist Church, and Bruce Ough, the UMC Bishop for Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota will attend. (March 16)
  • Mde Maka Ska Community Conversation: Following the Sacred Current of Water (March 22)
  • Minnesota Historical Society to hold public meeting on renaming and reinterpreting the Jeffers Petroglyphs. (March 25)
  • Walker Film Series INDIgenesis: Indigenous Filmmakers, Past and Present. (Runs through March 25.)
  • Screening of Dakota Creation Stories film. (March 26)

Details follow.

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Minneapolis City Council to Declare Oct. 10, 2016 “Coldwater Springs Protection and Preservation Day”, Pipe Ceremony Planned

Coldwater Springs (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Coldwater Springs (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The Minneapolis City Council is expected to pass a resolution this Friday that will declare Oct. 10 Coldwater Springs Protection and Preservation Day. Everyone is invited to attend a pipe ceremony and celebration at Coldwater Springs on Indigenous Peoples Day, Monday, Oct. 10, starting at noon.

The resolution was authored by 12th Ward Councilmember Andrew Johnson, whose south Minneapolis district abuts Coldwater Springs, which is in on unincorporated Hennepin County land. The springs are located just east of the intersection of Hiawatha Avenue and the Crosstown Highway.

Coldwater Springs is near the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers and is sacred to Dakota people, the original people of the area. (The Dakota name for the spring is Mni Owe Sni, which translated means Coldwater Springs.) Camp Coldwater also was the first European-American settlement in the Minnesota Territory; the spring furnished water to Fort Snelling.

The resolution states in part:

That the City of Minneapolis reminds all government agencies to respect the 1805 treaty and honor both the spirit and the letter of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 and the 2001 state law relating to protection and preservation of Coldwater Springs.

Click here for the full text of the Coldwater Springs Resolution.

Those expected to speak on behalf of the resolution at the Minneapolis City Council meeting Friday include: Sheldon Wolfchild of the Lower Sioux Reservation, Sharon Lennartson, chair of the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Community, and Clyde Bellecourt, a founder of the American Indian Movement.

Wolfchild will conduct the pipe ceremony at Coldwater Springs on Monday. Lennartson and Bellecourt are expected to speak, too. Coffee and cookies to follow. Bring family and friends!

For more on the First Amendment and treaty issues surrounding Coldwater Springs, read on.

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Messiah UMC to Host “Doctrine of Discovery: Understanding Native Historic Trauma” Event; This Day in History: Landmark Supreme Court Case on Tribal Sovereignty

Messiah United Methodist Church (UMC) is hosting a screenings of The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code, with a post-film discussion with co-Producer Sheldon Wolfchild of the Lower Sioux Indian Community. This event is free and open to the public. It is being held in collaboration with Wolfchild and his 38 Plus 2 Productions, Healing Minnesota Stories, and the UMC’s Native American Ministries Action Team.  It is part of the United Methodist Church’s ongoing work towards acts of repentance with Native American peoples.

Please come:

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Memorial Set for Medicine Bottle’s 1865 Hanging on Nov. 11; This Day in History: Native American Languages Act of 1990

Many people know about the 38 Dakota men hung at Mankato, Dec. 26, 1862, following the Dakota-U.S. War, the largest mass execution in U.S. history. Less well known are the two Dakota men — Medicine Bottle and Shakopee (aka Little Six) — who were hung at Fort Snelling nearly three years later for their participation in the war. They had fled to Canada but were kidnapped and handed over to U.S. authorities.

Filmmaker Sheldon Wolfchild, Medicine Bottle’s grandson, plans to hold a memorial for Medicine Bottle on the 150th anniversary of the hanging on Wednesday, Nov. 11, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be held at Fort Snelling, near the car turnaround (where the hanging took place). (Note: Go to the Fort itself, not the visitor’s center area where the concentration camp remembrances are held.)

Also that week, Wolfchild will hold film screenings and lecture at the Fort Snelling Theater from Sunday to Tuesday (Nov. 8-10), noon – 4 p.m. He will show both his recently released documentary: Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code and a shorter documentary on the Mdewakanton Dakota creation story. Wolfchild will lecture on “Where did the bodies go?” reflections on his efforts to find Medicine Bottles remains. Research shows that the bodies of both Medicine Bottle and Shakopee were quickly unearthed and removed for medical research.

This Day in History: Native American Languages Act of 1990

On this day in history, October 30, 1990, Congress passed the Native American Languages Act. According to Wikipedia: the act repudiated past policies of eradicating Indian Languages. The Act said that the United States “declares to preserve, protect and promote the rights and freedoms of Native Americans to use practice and develop Native American Languages”. Wikipedia goes on:

Congress found convincing evidence that student achievement and performance, community and school pride, and educational opportunity are clearly and directly tied to respect for, and support of, the first language of the child.

The Native American Language Act of 1990 has been a counterbalance to the English only movement and has been the catalyst for bilingual education on the reservations.