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

From: Perry Altendorfer, MMDTC Historian To: All Lineal Descendants, Signers and First Original Families relating to the 1830 Prairie du Chein Treaty.  We are currently updating our files, adding articles and documentation that involves families related to this treaty. Please see attached document:

M550 Part5 Johnsons and Jones Report 1856


Please contact Perry with questions or comments.


The most important featured news and articles from MMDC

The Battle of the Story of Taku Wakan Tipi.


The Battle of the Story of Taku Wakan Tipi

by Antidote’s Ed Sutton

Our writers collective has only existed informally for a couple of years, and has only been publishing for a few months. Members of the Antidote Writers Collective are still in the process of introducing ourselves to you. As our regular readers have likely noticed, the relatively few instances where Antidote’s curators weigh in with our own writing, so far, have been largely devoted to expository essays examining our own philosophical ‘upbringings.’ As they continue to trickle out, we hope these reflections on our own experiences of radicalization will help give some approximate shape and timbre to the eZine as a whole.

Continuing this exercise, it is my pleasure to reminisce a little about my home town.

First, however, a caveat is in order. I haven’t lived in Minneapolis—or even hung around there for any significant length of time—since leaving in the fall of 1999. Indeed, I was already gone, away at school, when the 16-month land occupation known as the Minnehaha Free State (MFS) met its bitter end in the final weeks of the 20th century. The stories I will be presenting in a series of posts over the coming months, about this significant but little-known manifestation of people power out in the city parklands near the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, are mostly not my own.

The encampment was established by a loose but increasingly well-organized coalition of (very broadly speaking) hippies, punks, Indians, and area residents in order to protect an ancient oak savannah, a spring, and land sacred to the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota from encroaching development. I cannot claim to have been an active participant there, but was rather an intermittent and sympathetic observer. I could use the excuse that, well, I was in high school at the time, with other teenagerly fish to fry…except so were friends of mine that lived and struggled every day at the Free State.

It is out of respect for them that this 15-year commemoration series will consist mainly of reflections from people who actually spent shivering sub-zero nights in the Starlodge, did tree sits, tended the Sacred Fire, cooked and shared and marched and played—people who lived Taku Wakan Tipi (the Dakota name for the MFS site, meaning ‘dwelling place of the gods’) and, in many cases, have never stopped doing so.

After the final eviction of the camp, the felling of the Four Oaks (and all the rest of them, too), and the re-routing of Minnesota State Highway 55 through a documented Dakota burial site, one of these people spent several years compiling testimony from her comrades and sifting through reams of newspaper articles and government records; in 2006 Elli King released a people’s history of the MFS called Listen. In a way, this series is an attempt to honor her work on that book, an invaluable document, and to carry it forward by bringing the story of Taku Wakan Tipi to a global audience and placing it in the genealogy of social movements and occupations that have happened since.

I have recently stumbled across further attempts by other participants at the MFS to document the occupation and explain its significance, either within the context of the then-gestating alter-globalization movement (the Battle in Seattle, it should be noted, happened during the final months of the Taku Wakan Tipi occupation, and several MFS activists made the trip) or in their own lives. In 2009, a documentary film about the encampment, by participant ­­­Ann Follett, was screened at Minneapolis’s most prominent art museum. And just this year a modest but intimate blog describing the radicalizing experience was launched by a woman who went by the name Justice in camp (Elli’s camp name was Freedom).

For my part, I have shared the MFS example occasionally in the context of my own activism. In 2011, I found myself reaching back to 1999 and reaching out to old MFS activist friends for advice on winterizing a protest camp (among other things) in the early days of Occupy Zürich. I referenced the MFSers’ hardiness and ingenuity in several irritating pep-talks when morale appeared to be flagging at General Assemblies back then, and the resulting questions and conversations about those ‘good old days’ prompted me to read aloud excerpts of Listen at a spontaneous theater performance in Zürich on the theme of occupation and revolution.

It struck me then as now how little is known and appreciated about the Taku Wakan Tipi occupation, which after all resulted in the largest police action in Minnesota state history and could be interpreted as a precursor to many of the Green Anarchist and First Nations struggles we see gathering steam and drawing fire in the Americas today—not to mention the many forms of right-to-the-city protest “kicking off” all around the world.

I want to be careful not to overstate the encampment’s significance; I certainly don’t mean to imply that the MFS—or even Seattle—had a direct influence on, say, last year’s Gezi Park protests in Turkey or the European Botellón movement, despite common threads being evident. It is rather my intention to tug on the MFS-end of a few such threads—i.e. catch up with a few old MFSers—and see where they truly lead. As Rebecca Solnit has pointed out many times, it is through these tiny threads of peoples’ own lives and experiences that movements live.

In my own case, the thread starting at MFS led me to and through several subsequent movements—encountering tons of fascinating, aggravating people along the way, each following threads of their own—to where I’m sitting now: in my living room after a long day at work, trying to assess, in my rambling way, where we’re at, where we’ve been and perhaps where we’re headed.

What about Freedom?
What about Justice?

Good questions. Freedom has been living off the grid for a decade. Justice appears, unfortunately, to have abandoned her blog. But their voices will certainly be among those featured in the coming series, and they will not be the only two. At any rate: to borrow yet again from Rebecca Solnit’s syntax: the battle of the story of Taku Wakan Tipi will continue here on Antidote’s pages over the next six months, roughly following events at the encampment through the summer, fall, and winter of 1999.

Coming up: Summer. Accounts from three Minnehaha Free State activists on how they came to the encampment—just as the already months-long standoff with state authorities was intensifying—and what they did there.

Featured Image via Santa Cruz Indymedia: Dakota Teepee at Sunset (2008), photograph taken at Coldwater Spring, which is adjascent to the former Minnehaha Free State site, i.e. Highway 55, and is still under threat from encroaching development.

Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Community] Mayo summer program deadline March 18, 2016.




I’m connecting in hope that we may interest diverse Mendota students (current high school sophomores and juniors) – in a week-long, all expenses paid – career immersion experience in Rochester July 11-15, 2016. The program is designed to give 20 Minnesota high school students hands-on experience in seven different Mayo laboratories, and highlight a few of the hundreds of health science careers of which students may be unaware. Many programs already exist to encourage students interested in nursing or physician careers. The Career Immersion Program is designed to highlight vitally important roles in the healthcare team – such as respiratory therapy, physical therapy, nurse anesthetist, phlebotomist and others – that high school students are unlikely to see portrayed in the media, hence an overall low awareness of healthcare careers (besides physicians and nurses). We’ve reached out as well to Bemidji, Pipestone, Prairie Island, and White Earth, as well as other high schools across the state. Here is a link to more information and the application form: We’re looking for Minnesota students who are diverse, are current sophomores or juniors in high school, have an interest in health sciences and are strong learners. Our application deadline is approaching on March 18. Both Bemidji High School and Mille Lacs have interested students who plan to apply. We’ve had insightful conversations with Heather Sasse, the counselor at Mille Lacs, about the academic achievement gap (and all the reasons behind that) for some Native American students. Although some of her students may not have the 2.75 GPA we request on the application, we will very much consider other factors, evaluate the student’s essay and letter of recommendation as part of the application process. Please know that your students will receive serious consideration. Students who are homeschooled and have recent Minnesota academic equivalency scores also are encouraged to apply for the program. I would be happy to provide more information, visit with you, students, family members, teachers or counselors who may have questions. We hope our first year will be a success and we’ll be able to offer this program to Minnesota students on an annual basis. Again, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this difficult time. Kind regards, Margaret Dougherty Mayo School of Health Sciences 507-284-4194

Some documents or posts may still have the old comcast e-mail address.  The correct address to use is