“Preserving, Protecting and Promoting the Dakota Culture for Future Generations”

The MMDTC
is a Tribal 501C3 Org

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2016 Wacipi POW WOW flyer

Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Community

OUR HISTORY

The Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Community is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the Dakota culture and heritage.

We have over 125 current members in good standing. Many members meet monthly in Mendota, Minnesota at the DuPuis House. Members in good standing pay their contributions each month.

Without their contributions Mendota would have to close our doors. We also have honorary members who choose to pay their contributions to Mendota.

If you want to become an honorary member the application is on our website www.mendotadakota.com under downloads.

The majority of the ancestors of the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Community can be traced back to Mendota, Minnesota in the 1700s.

Mendota Dakota Logo

The Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Community is working on regaining and keeping its culture and heritage so that future generations of people from all walks of live can learn and will know about the Dakota culture.

Click the image below to visit our slides showing the history and family of our people. CLICK TO VISIT

Mendota has there monthly Inipi’s at the DuPuis House for over 5 years.

We have kept an office in Mendota for over 21 years thanks to our members, donations, and a few grants. Mostly our members we have almost closed our doors a few times.

Please help us to continue on by DONATING to our cause. Pidamaya! (Thank you)

DESPITE our people being here for centuries, we have never been in a reservation situation. We have remained a Dakota Community despite the following:

The assimilation of 200 years.

The failure of the ratification of the Treaty of 1841, which would have made the valley of the Minnesota River an Indian Territory much like Oklahoma became.

The failure of the purchase of lands for the Mendota People by the U.S. Government despite the purchase of four other pieces of land that became the present Dakota Communities in Minnesota.

We filed for recognition as a federally recognized tribe and have acquired federal tax-exempt non-profit status as a Dakota Community. Our mission statement is the protection and preservation of the Dakota culture and language. It is our dream to establish heath facilities for our people, establish a learning center for all people, re-establish our language for our community and our descendants, and establish cultural ties.

Our petition for recognition has regrettably been slowed by struggles against the development of our ancestral lands and the resting places of our ancestors. As a result of Department of Justice mediation, a two-day testimony session was established which brought forth testimony from many elders from Indian Nations. Dakota, Ojibwe, and people from other nations
historically bound to this area came to testify. The most important part of this testimony was largely ignored resulting in the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s decision to eliminate the Four Sacred Grandfather Oaks along the proposed site of the reroute of State Highway 55 in South Minneapolis.

We have renewed our efforts to gain federal recognition and the regrettable loss of the trees has given us more time to do this. We no longer have our spiritual encampment to support and our efforts can be aimed at the recognition petition.

Mission of the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Community: “To preserve, protect, and promote the Dakota culture for future generations.”

In 2002, the MMDC membership participated in a comprehensive strategic planning session that resulted in the development of seven (7) long-range goals striving to:

  • Promote and support the preservation of the Dakota culture, including protecting sites of cultural significance to the Dakota people.
  • Promote a better understanding between the Native American community and the general public.
  • Teach community members and others the Dakota language.
  • Develop self-sufficiency through in-house business.
  • Obtain federal recognition.
  • Maintain a tribal office in Mendota.
  • Acquire a land base.

THE VILLAGE OF MENDOTA

The name Mendota is a French misinterpretation of the Dakota word Mdo-Te. Mdo-Te (pronounced Bdoh Tay) means the mouth of a river or a meeting of waters. In this instance it is the Mdo-TE of the Wakpa (River) Mni-sota (less than clear or smoky water.) The French explorer Joseph Nicollet visited this region in the late 1830’s. Nicollet was told by Dakota Elders at that time that the area around Mendota was considered by the Mdewakanton (Bday-wah kahn toon) Dakota People to be the middle of all things and the exact center of the earth. Our people have been here for centuries but appear in history in connection with the earliest French and English Traders.

Following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, President Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark up the Missouri River, and Lt. Zebulon Pike up the Mississippi to see what had been purchased. Lt. Pike negotiated a treaty in 1805 with our people for two parcels of land for the establishment of military posts. The first parcel was a nine-mile square of land centered on the confluence of the St.Croix and Mississippi Rivers. The second parcel was an ambiguous piece of land from just above the falls of St.Anthony to just below the mouth of the St. Pierre (St. Peters) River (The Minnesota) and extending nine miles on either side of the Mississippi River.

Despite the huge acquisition of some 100 square miles of land, the army did not appear here again until 1819. A temporary post was established on the bottomland of the Minnesota River for the first winter. Because of unhealthy conditions on the bottomland, a permanent post was established across the river on the promontory where Fort Snelling now stands. The army was camped at a sacred spring of the Dakota people (Coldwater Spring) for the time it took to build the magnificent limestone fort of which today’s fort is a replica. An Indian Agency was established outside the fort and the traders from the American Fur Company set up headquarters across the river at Mendota. This was the beginning of the white man’s history of the area.

Most of the traders, agency employees and military personnel took Dakota women as wives. This was the beginning of the kinship ties that have bound our people to this area till the present day. In this setting we have been much assimilated by white society, but continue to maintain cultural and religious ties to our Dakota ancestors.

Dakota Families Of Mendota

Many are Descendants of Cetanwakanmani some are related to Taoyateduta (Little Crow)

The majority of the members of MMDC are from one of the families listed below. The ancestry for most goes back to the French fur traders who married Dakota women. In late 1875, the Reverend David Buel Knickerbacker estimated there were approximately 75 Dakota living in Mendota, on land owned by Henry Sibley. Sibley and others tried unsuccessfully to get the government to grant land or money for the land for the Mendota people. When Sibley died in 1891, our people were made to leave the land. They moved to the old river road in Mendota, but were again forced to move in 1952, when the state acquired the land. Many stayed in the area surrounding Mendota.

In an excerpt from the Hastings Gazette in a column called “Mendota Items” dated Saturday, February 13, 1886, it states “Everybody goes to St. Paul this week to see the carnival. Most of the Indians on the palace grounds are from here (Mendota).” In an interview with Mary Louise Reding Auge in 1961, her recollections include summer church picnics at Duncans Lake (since renamed Augusta Lake). ” The picnic grounds were on the west shore nearest Mendota, while across the lake on ground now occupied by Resurrection Cemetery, were row after row of Indian lodges. The young people would walk along the lake shore and watch the woman prepare corn meal by cracking kernels between stones, and listen to their strange chatter in the Dakota tongue.” She also stated, without wishing to unnecessarily rattle family skeletons, that many families of French descent in northern Dakota County could boast of more than a little Indian blood in their veins.

Contact us for Information is available on details of the early French and English explorers in the area that became Minnesota.

The following names are in no particular order.

LeClaire, Felix, LeMay, Auge, LaBatte, Robinette, Newcomb, Perron, DuPuis, Cermak, Leith, Sherry, LaCroix, Turpin, Frazier, Faribault, Sibley, Titus

OUR WORK, OUR IMPACT, WHAT WE DO

We have kept an office in Mendota for over 21 years, thanks to our members, donations, and a few grants. Mostly our members!

We are now going on our 18th Pow Wow (Wacipi), scheduled for September 8, 9, 10, 2017, at St Peter’s Church, 1405 Sibley Memorial Hwy, Mendota Minnesota, 55150.

Despite our people being here for centuries, we have never been in a
reservation situation. We have remained a Dakota Community despite the
following:

  • The assimilation of 200 years.
  • The failure of the ratification of the Treaty of 1841, which would have made the valley of the Minnesota River an indian territory, much like what happened in Oklahoma.
  • The failure of the purchase of lands for the Mendota people by the U.S. Government, despite the purchase of four other pieces of land that became the present Dakota communities in Minnesota.

We filed for recognition as a federally recognized tribe and have acquired federal tax-exempt non-profit status as a Dakota Community. Our mission statement includes the protection and preservation of the Dakota culture and language. It is our dream to establish a community center, health facilities for our people, and a learning center for all people, and re-establish our language and cultural ties for our community and our descendants.

Our petition for recognition has regrettably been slowed by struggles against the development of our ancestral lands and the resting places of our ancestors. As a result of Department of Justice mediation, a two-day testimony session was established, which brought forth testimony from many elders from Indian Nations–Dakota, Ojibwe, and people from other nations
historically bound to this area. The most important part of this testimony, largely presented by then-Tribal Chair Bob Brown’s sister, Linda Marie Brown, and wife, Linda Brown, was ignored.  This resulted in the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s decision to eliminate the Four Sacred Grandfather Oaks along the proposed site of the State Highway 55 reroute in south Minneapolis.

We have renewed our efforts to gain federal recognition, and the regrettable loss of the trees has given us more time to do this. We no longer have our spiritual encampment to support, and our efforts can be aimed at the recognition petition.

OUR INTERACTIONS WITH OTHER INDIAN COMMUNITIES

We were extremely blessed to become good friends with Chris Leith in 1997, until he passed away. Chris was a spiritual advisor for the Prairie Island Dakota Community. Chris taught us much of what was missing in our knowledge of Dakota culture. He
taught us the sacred Dakota language for months until the grant for the class was expended. Chris invited us to our first Sundance in 1997 at the sacred quarries in Pipestone. Some members have attended this ceremony ever since. Jim Anderson has continued to be a sun dancer for many years. Chris gave Beverly Scott and Sharon Lennartson their spirit names thru the creator at the Hastings Veteran’s Wacipi.

We have attended many Wacipis, including the past three at the Lower Sioux Reservation in Morton, Minnesota. We have also gone to Wacipis at Prairie Island, Shakopee and Mankato.  Several of our members started to dance; Beverly Scott, Sharon Lennartson, Mike Scott, Jim Anderson, Marie Nordin, Roxann Hop, and Joan Minske.

We were co-sponsors of the First Annual Veteran’s Wacipi at the Minnesota State Veteran’s Home in Hastings. We are also involved in the Gathering of Kinship Wacipi at Birch Coulee, honoring the 38 Grandfathers hung at Mankato on December 26, 1862. Jim Anderson and Michael Scott, started our first Wacipi in 1999. We are now planning our 20th Wacipi to be held on September 8, 9,10, 2017.

We were in charge of the kitchen at World Peace and Prayer Day held on June 21, 1998, at the sacred quarries in Pipestone. This was truly a moving experience. We started with virtually nothing and thanks to both tribal members and non-members, we had all the equipment and food we could use. Every time we were in need of something, such as fruit juice for the children, someone would bring in cases. The caring and sharing at the gathering was an incredible religious experience. At the end of the weekend, we sent extra food home with many elders. Aho Wasteste!!

Lakota Chief Arvol Looking Horse (past and present Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe) and his family led a unity ride along with some of our people from Birch Coulee to our encampment at the Four Sacred Grandfather Oaks. Ceremonies were also held on Pilot Knob (Oheyawahe- Much Visited Hill) our sacred burial place, and where the treaty of 1841 (unratified) and the 1851 Treaty of Mendota were signed. Ceremonies were also held at the Coldwater Sacred Spring (Mnihdoka Wakan) that we have so long struggled to protect.

The Reverend Gary Cavender, spiritual advisor to the Shakopee Dakota and Bain Wilson, Tribal elder from the Lower Sioux have supported us. Elders and spiritual advisors from many nations have been in support of our efforts to protect these sacred places for our ancestors to rest in peace.

We held a ceremony for World Peace and Prayer Day at Coldwater Spring on June 21, 1999, that was attended by several nations. We had a feast afterward at the site of the Four Sacred Oaks Spiritual Encampment. Arvol Looking Horse also did another ceremony for World Peace and Prayer Day at St. Peter’s Church in Mendota.

We have received a resolution from the National Congress of American Indians supporting our position to protect our sacred sites. The National Congress, established in 1944, is the oldest and largest national organization, comprised of representatives of and advocates for national, regional and local Tribal concerns. A resolution was also received from the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, a tribe that was historically in the area.

We want to thank the Minnesota Historical Society for co-Sponsoring (Our History Our Story) Our story will be told in the summer of 2017 at the DuPuis House in Mendota. The DuPuis House has special significance for the Mendota Dakota Community, because so many members are related to this family. Many of us are descendants of Hypolite DuPuis who married Joseph Renville’s daughter, Angelique, in 1836.

OUR INTERACTIONS WITH OTHER INDIAN COMMUNITIES

WE were extremely blessed to be come good friends with Chris Leith in 1997, until he passed away on 3-3-2011. Chris was a spiritual advisor for the Prairie Island Dakota Community. Chris taught us much of what was missing in our knowledge of Dakota culture. Chris
taught us the sacred Dakota language for months until the grant for the class was expended. Chris invited us to our first Sundance in 1997 at the sacred quarries in Pipestone. Some members have attended this ceremony every since.

Chris gave Beverly Scott and Sharon Lennartson their spirit names thru the creator at the Hasting Veterans Pow Wow.

Jim Anderson has become a sun dancer for many years.

We have attended many pow wows, including the past three at the Lower Sioux Reservation in Morton, Minnesota. We have also gone to pow wows at Prairie Island, Shakopee and Mankato. Several of our members started to dance Beverly Scott, Sharon Lennartson, Mike Scott, Jim Anderson, Marie Nordin, Roxann Hop, Joan Minske started to dance.

We were co-sponsors of the First Annual Veterans Pow Wow at the Minnesota State Veterans Home in Hastings and are working on it again for the second one. We are also involved in the Gathering of Kinship Pow Wow at Coulee, honoring the 38 Grandfathers hung at Mankato on December 26, 1862. Jim Anderson and Michael Scott, started our first Pow Wow.

We are know on our 20th Pow Wow on Sept 8, 9,10 2017.

We were in charge of the kitchen at World Peace and Prayer Day held on June 21, 1998 at the sacred quarries at Pipestone. This was truly a moving experience. We started with virtually nothing and thanks to members of many tribes, we had all the equipment and food we could use. Every time we were in need of something such as fruit juice for the children, someone would bring in cases. The caring and sharing at the gathering was an incredible religious experience. At the end of the weekend, we sent extra food home
with many elders. Aho Wasteste!!

Chief Arvol Looking Horse (Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe) and his family led a unity ride along with some of our people from Birch Coulee to our encampment at the Four Sacred Grandfather Oaks. Ceremonies were also held on Pilot Knob (Oheyawahe- Much Visited Hill) our sacred burial place and where the treaties of 1841 (unratified) and 1851 Treaty of Mendota were signed. Ceremonies were also held at the Sacred Spring (Mnihdoka Wakan) that we have so long struggled to protect.

The Reverend Gary Cavender, spiritual advisor to the Shakopee Dakota, and Bain Wilson, Tribal elder from the Lower Sioux have supported us. Elders and spiritual advisors from many nations have been in support of our efforts to protect these sacred places for our ancestors to rest in peace.

We held a ceremony for World Peace and Prayer Day at Coldwater Spring on June 21, 1999 that was attended by several nations. We had a feast afterward at the site of the Four Sacred Oaks Spiritual Encampment.

We have received a resolution from the National Congress of American Indians supporting our position to protect our sacred sites. The National Congress is the oldest and largest national organization established in 1944, comprised of representatives of and advocates for national, regional and local Tribal concerns. A resolution was also received from the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, a tribe that was historically in the area.

We want to thank the MNHS for C0-Sponsoring (Our History Our Story) Our story will be told some time in 2017 at the DuPuis House in Mendota.

Many of us are related to Hypolite DuPuis married Joseph Renville’s daughter, Angelique, in 1836.

Many generations ago, our elders prophesied that a time would come when their descendants would return to the birthplace of the Dakota Nation to protect its sacred sites and bring Dakota culture back to its place of origin. This place is the Mendota area, the joining together place, of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers in the heart of the Twin Cities. We are the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community, and we are here today fulfilling that prophesy as best we can in the place where our direct ancestors lived.

We have run out of funds to maintain our tribal community center in the town of Mendota, MN beyond May, 2011. We are asking you to help us out in our immediate need by donating whatever amount of money you can afford to help keep us intact so we can do the work we are dedicated to.

We would like you to better understand our situation. Please take a moment to read this open letter to all peoples of good heart . We were recently forced to move but we are still a community and we will keep going on, as always, we are Dakota!!!

Over the past 16 years we have spent many thousands of volunteer hours fighting for the preservation of sites sacred to the Dakota People and brought back Dakota ceremonies, language, and culture to the birthplace of the Dakota Nation. We have gone to schools and cultural organizations throughout the Twin Cities area to educate our neighbors about the true story of the Dakota People in Minnesota and promote acceptance and healing between our people and the general American public.

We have brought together once again the scattered descendants of the Mdewakanton band of Dakota people who had once lived in the Mendota area.

We bridge the gap between Indian and non-Indian communities. Our commitment to sustaining Dakota language and culture is our organizations driving force. Our programs and events are open to the public. We encourage all people to learn and participate. We work collaboratively with tribal, city, county and state governments, Native and non-Native non-profits, and grass root organizations on issues and initiatives that pertain to and affect Dakota and other Native peoples.

  • Preserving the Culture: Consistent with our mission, several programs and activities focus on the preservation of Dakota culture. These include:
  • Conducting weekly Dakota language classes free of charge and open to the public.
  • Conducting monthly traditional craft classes free of charge and open to the public.
  • Hosting the annual MMDC Welcome Home Traditional Pow-Wow.
  • Hosting annual World Peace and Prayer Day and Winter Solstice ceremonies at Camp Coldwater
  • Participating in an annual traditional Sugar Bush Camp
  • Initiating and hosting the annual remembrance ceremony to honor the Dakota ancestors who were interred in the Fort Snelling concentration camp after the 1862 Dakota Conflict
  • Hosting Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires) meetings. Protecting the Culture: We believe that a critical component of ensuring that the Dakota culture will exist for future generations is protecting the culture today. These protective activities are crucial our mission. 
  • Exercising Treaty rights, such as pass and re-pass rights at Camp Coldwater and fishing rights under the 1805 Treaty
  • Partnering with the Pilot Knob Preservation Association to protect an historical site from being developed into a commercial office-building complex.
  • Promoting the Culture: We believe that promoting the Dakota culture is important on many levels. First and foremost, promoting the culture ensures that accurate historical and contemporary information about the Dakota is present in relevant dialogues and is available to Dakota and non-Dakota alike. Promotion initiatives also provide the foundation for improved relationships with our non-Dakota relatives.
  • Educational Outreach to local schools to share the Dakota culture, crafts, regalia, and artifacts
  • Maintaining a website for the MMDC providing historical and cultural information to visitors we work collaboratively with tribal, city, county and state governments, Native and non-Native non-profits, and grass root organizations on issues and initiatives that pertain to and affect Dakota and other Native peoples. Examples of these collaborations include:
  • Working with the Preserve Camp Coldwater Coalition to protect a site that is sacred to Dakota people and of cultural significance to the people of Minnesota
  • Collaborating with the University of Minnesota on several native-related projects
  • Teaming up with the City of Mendota and the Mendota VFW in organizing the Mendota Days community celebration
  • Working with Ospaye (a.k.a. Friends of the Friendly), a group of people ineligible to be MMDC members who are dedicated to supporting MMDC and its efforts
Minnehaha falls Mendota Dakota