Best of Neighborhood News 9/27: Bell Museum exhibit features Ojibwe and Dakota voiceovers

At the newly renovated and reopened Bell Museum, the voices of Ojibwe and Dakota children inform about natural science dioramas, depicting nature scenes from around Minnesota. The inclusion of these voices was intentional, hoping to showcase the persisting existence of these languages in the face of cultural destruction through colonization. “They chose the words for the conversation,” said Cindy Ward-Thompson, Bdote Learning Center founder and current director. “We used a lot of children in the process because we wanted to show others that Dakota and Ojibwe are still vibrant spoken languages and that the language is alive in children as well as elders.”

Read more at The Circle. Creative writing space uplifts Black and POCI voices

Black Lines Matter is a project of Black Table Arts, an organization dedicated to creating spaces for Black and POCI individuals to have their creative expression centered and uplifted. Continue Reading

“The Dakota Prisoner of War Letters”: Clifford Canku and Michael Simon illuminate a dark corner of Minnesota history

After seeing Django Unchained, I wrote about how slow Minnesota has been to see the plank in its own eye when casting judgment on the cruel history of slavery in the south. Dakota and other Native inhabitants of our land were treated brutally during westward expansion, and that treatment precipitated the deadly Dakota War of 1862—perhaps the darkest moment in our state’s history.That sad history has been steadily coming to light, and the Minnesota Historical Society Press is making an important contribution to that process with the publication of The Dakota Prisoner of War Letters (Dakota Kaskapi Okicize Wowapi), a compilation of 50 letters written from the Iowa prison camp where 270 Dakota men were imprisoned from the war’s end until they were freed by President Andrew Johnson three years later. The letters are presented both in the original Dakota and in English translation.For all its historical importance, this is not a starter volume for those who know little of the war. Its greatest value—both to historians and to the causal reader—is in illuminating the complexity of these men’s lives. Neither blameless victims nor evil criminals, these were men who were caught in a terrible situation and who did what they felt they had to do for their families and communities.The letters contain much evidence of regret, which is natural since almost all of them were written to a missionary—Stephen R. Riggs—who was in contact with U.S. authorities and had some sway in influencing the men’s fates. Continue Reading

Winter walking tour highlights storied past at new Coldwater Spring park near Mississippi River

Take a winter walking tour of Coldwater Spring, the new park located between Minnehaha Park and Fort Snelling, and you can catch a glimpse of the area’s storied past. If you’re lucky, one of our local historians will be on the tour and can point out the location of homes from a mid-1880s settlement or can talk about why Coldwater is considered by many to be the birthplace of Minnesota.National Park Ranger Nick Krasch leads a winter walking tour at Coldwater Spring.NPS Unveils a ParkWhen the National Park Service (NPS) took over the site in 2010, it was nothing close to what you would imagine a National Park to be. The land had been home to the Bureau of Mines, and when it was shuttered in 1996 its buildings were abandoned, even office equipment had been left behind. Buckthorn ran wild through masses of oaks, and Coldwater Creek disappeared into a steel culvert.NPS set out to restore the area, and its task list was long. Fortunately it had the help of many volunteers to transform the space into what it is today, and although the work isn’t done, the park has come a long way. Continue Reading

Dakota Commemorative March: Retracing 150 miles of forced march at end of Dakota-U.S. War

On an unseasonably warm November Saturday, participants in the 2012 Dakota Commemorative Walk traveled from their lunch stop at the Treaty Site History Center, just north of St. Peter, toward Henderson. The grass at the side of Highway 169 was drained of color, dry and crunchy underfoot. A steady hum of traffic shot by the procession of marchers and slow moving cars on one side while the Minnesota River was visible on the other. On the horizon, bare branches of oak and cottonwood trees stood out against blue sky.The Dakota Commemorative Walk remembers and honors the 1,700 Dakota women, children and elders who were forcibly marched 150 miles by U.S. military troops from the site of the present-day town of Morton to Fort Snelling. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Dakota exercise treaty fishing rights on Cedar Lake

Early this morning (May 13), a group of Dakota people set out their gill nets on Cedar Lake in Minneapolis, to exercise their fishing rights according to the Treaty of 1805. DNR officials stood at the ready, and when the net was pulled in, it was confiscated, along with about two dozen fish. Participants were identified and ticketed. A group of about forty people witnessed the scene and all involved were quiet, peaceful, and respectful of each other.As I arrived to a cloudy and cool Cedar Lake at 8 a.m., squads were parked at intersections in the quiet neighborhood. I attended as an “Upstander”, a person who supports the indigenous people in their struggle to maintain their culture and identity. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Healing the Dakota People’s Painful Wounds Of Ethnocide and Genocide

In 2008, when it was time for Minnesota to celebrate its sesquicentennial, Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty appointed a Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission (MSC). The staff of the MSC had a page on their web site titled May is American Indian Month in Minnesota. The statement there was intended to “…bear witness to the tragic side of Minnesota Statehood in 1858 and acknowledge the pain, loss and suffering of the Native American culture in Minnesota.” The statement continued with the healing words:”Minnesotans pride themselves today on living in a state that is forward-thinking and compassionate. We have become a haven for refugees from countries where genocide still occurs. Continue Reading

A conversation with Mary Lethert Wingerd – Author, North Country: The Making of Minnesota

Mary Lethert Wingerd, author of North Country: The Making of Minnesota, the untold history of how the land of the Dakota and Ojibwe became the State of Minnesota. This is an all-new a new history of our fair state, but beginning way back there when this was a land stewarded by our indigenous predecessors, the Ojibwe and Dakota (Sioux), centuries before Europeans first arrived and blended in with their brothers, then turned on them to settle those same lands by cheating trade and false treaties. Mary Wingerd and TTT’s Andy Driscoll talk about her book and touch on her oral history project at St. Cloud State University, where she is a professor of history. Wingerd is also author of Claiming the City: Politics, Faith, and the Power of Place in St. Paul . Continue Reading