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Sharon Lennartson and the Faribault Dakota Project

Jeff Jarvis Faribault Dakota Project Mendota Dakota Sharon Lennartson Mdewakanton

Sharon Lennartson, tribal headwoman of the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community, exploded with joy when she learned of the Faribault Dakota Project in the works.

“I yelled and screamed to my boys, “Somebody’s finally going to listen,’” Lennartson recalls. I wanted every bit to be a part of it.”

In partnership with the Faribault Heritage Preservation Commission, Rice County Historical Society, Faribault Mural Society and Santee Sioux Nation, the Mendota Dakota Community will offer historical insight to a project that will honor the Dakotas’ impact on Faribault’s early years.

Jeff Jarvis, a Faribault artist, designer and historian, connected with Lennartson after taking the lead on the project.

The idea for the memorial began several months ago when the commission became aware of a hand-drawn map that illustrated where Native Americans had lived on city namesake Alexander Faribault’s property after the Dakota Uprising. Faribault and Bishop Henry Whipple both wanted to protect the Dakota, who had helped Minnesota settlers during the U.S.-Dakota War, from being banished from the state.

Although the HPC initially envisioned land near the River Bend Nature Center as the location for the Faribault Dakota memorial, the new options include Peace Park, the Buckham Memorial Library Plaza and Heritage Park. The project is expected to begin in 2021.

Jarvis plans to combine written word, artwork and photography to depict the story of the Faribault Dakota on a three-panel interpretive sign. The panels will provide backstory of the Faribault Dakota community, including a history of the Wahpekute, partnerships that supported Native Americans in Faribault, maps, timelines, photos of tribe leader and Dakota verbiage with English translations.

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Sharon Lennartson, tribal headwoman of the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community, exploded with joy when she learned of the Faribault Dakota Project in the works.

“I yelled and screamed to my boys, “Somebody’s finally going to listen,’” Lennartson recalls. I wanted every bit to be a part of it.”

In partnership with the Faribault Heritage Preservation Commission, Rice County Historical Society, Faribault Mural Society and Santee Sioux Nation, the Mendota Dakota Community will offer historical insight to a project that will honor the Dakotas’ impact on Faribault’s early years.

Jeff Jarvis, a Faribault artist, designer and historian, connected with Lennartson after taking the lead on the project.

The idea for the memorial began several months ago when the commission became aware of a hand-drawn map that illustrated where Native Americans had lived on city namesake Alexander Faribault’s property after the Dakota Uprising. Faribault and Bishop Henry Whipple both wanted to protect the Dakota, who had helped Minnesota settlers during the U.S.-Dakota War, from being banished from the state.

Although the HPC initially envisioned land near the River Bend Nature Center as the location for the Faribault Dakota memorial, the new options include Peace Park, the Buckham Memorial Library Plaza and Heritage Park. The project is expected to begin in 2021.

Jarvis plans to combine written word, artwork and photography to depict the story of the Faribault Dakota on a three-panel interpretive sign. The panels will provide backstory of the Faribault Dakota community, including a history of the Wahpekute, partnerships that supported Native Americans in Faribault, maps, timelines, photos of tribe leader and Dakota verbiage with English translations.

“That was the first time any of us at the office had seen [the map],” Lennartson said.

One of the houses on the map is labeled “LeClair,” which could refer to Lennartson’s great-grandfather, Wakon LeClair, who was Alexander Faribault’s helper. Lennartson explained “Wakon” means “holy,” and her great-grandfather was a medicine man or spiritual advisor. Her family tree also contains Faribaults and a common ancestor with Chief Little Crow, acclaimed leader of the Mdewakanton from 1846 to 1863.

Thinking about the project and what it means to have her people recognized, Lennartson recalls the tragic stories of her late grandparents, Lily and Albert LeClair. Her grandmother died at her Mendota home after the medical staff at a hospital failed to take proper care of her, and her grandfather, who broke his back in a car accident on the reservation, was turned away by another hospital because he was a Native American. He suffered for months because the hospital that did take him in didn’t have the proper medical equipment to treat his broken back, and Lennartson said he “died of a broken heart.”

Lennartson herself was not raised Native, but she and other Mdewakanton descendants started the Mendota Dakota Community nearly 25 years ago to return to their roots. Other members of the tribal council will have opportunities to share their input for the Faribault Dakota Project, and so will members of the Santee Sioux Nation and Lower Sioux Agency.

The Mendota Dakota people have been in Minnesota for thousands of years, Lennartson said, and Dakota ancestors and descendants have been in Mendota for over 130 years. She and the others in the Mendota Dakota community are related to Chief Cetanwakanmani, Chief Taoyatwduta from the 1862 war, and Chief Wabasha as well as Agathe Winona Red Woman Angelique DuPuis Renville and Mazasnawin Iron Woman Rosalie Freniere. Some of their ancestors are from Little Crow’s village, Kaposia.

“This is about as happy as I’ve ever been,” Lennartson said of the announcement of the Faribault Dakota Project. “It’s time … Just to know that different families are recognized and not forgotten — they’ll never be forgotten.”

This story written by MISTY SCHWAB misty.schwab@apgsomn.com

Sharon Lennartson Dakota Project Aug 2020 Mdewakanton Mendota.jpg

Radio interview with Dan “The Oak Man” Keiser

Dan Keiser, The Oak Man by Brigitta Greene
The Mendota Dakota tribal community honored arborist Dan Keiser [pictured] at their annual pow wow in September of 2019. Keiser goes by “Oak Man,” a nickname he acquired during the years-long standoff over the construction of Highway 55 in the late 90s. The protest pitted environmental activists and native communities against MnDOT. A central symbol of the fight were four bur oak trees, well over 100 years old, that native communities believed to be sacred, and highway officials said needed to be cleared. The highway ultimately won out, and – 20 years ago this December – the trees came down. But behind the scenes, Keiser took cuttings from the oaks and brought them to an expert who was able to graft them onto new saplings. Keiser then transplanted the grafted trees on the historic grounds of St. Peter’s church in Mendota, and still cares for them today.

Message from Dan: 

If you have about 10 minutes, check out this piece that KFAI radio aired
just last night! The whole show is an hour long, skip over most of it
(like 50 minutes), but tune into the interview from point 12:00 to 21:40.

https://www.kfai.org/episode/09-18-2019-minneculture-presents

Dan Keiser, "Dan The Oak Man" radio talk show

Dan Keiser, “Dan The Oak Man” radio talk show

CUI Notice Federal Register Publication – human remains from Iowa

Good afternoon,

After conversation with George Garvin last week, I’d like to start making plans for reburial of the 138 individuals and 32 associated funerary objects in the attached Notice. As you know, the Ho-Chunk Nation has taken the lead in submitting a claim; I also received letters in support of this from the Otoe-Missouria, the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, and the Three Affiliated Tribes.  I’ve been given the go ahead by George to start making arrangements, but do want to be as inclusive as possible. Given their distribution and keeping with reburying as close as possible to original burial locations, it seems that we could conduct reburials at each of our four state-owned cemeteries. So at this time I’d like to arrange a meeting to begin planning

As a starting point, I propose that we meet on November 12, after the OSA’s Advisory Committee meeting, at 1pm, as there will be several of our Indian Advisory Council members here at the OSA, and we can also set up a conference call for others to call in. Please let me know if you’d like to participate, but the date and/or time don’t work for you.

Lara K. Noldner, PhD
Bioarchaeology Director
Office of the State Archaeologist
University of Iowa
700 S Clinton St.
Iowa City, IA
319-384-0740

CUI Iowa 2019-04911.pdf

CUI Iowa 2019 notice map

CUI Iowa 2019 notice map

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