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Zoom Meeting Discussion Federal Recognition Press Release on June 21, 2021.

Mendota Dakota Mdewakanton Tribal Community Discussion Federal Recognition Meeting Press Release

If the video doesn’t work, or if you prefer to download it, here is the video hosted in Zoom:
Press Release 6/21/2021

Reply to us as to what you think of the video?

Thank you Greg Strandmark Historian and Sharon Lennartson Tribal Chairwoman.

I will add more names of people to thank, soon as I complete the list.

Love Sharon

Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribe to again seek federal recognition

Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribe to again seek federal recognition.

Article by Jenna Kunze. Aug 2nd, 2021

MENDOTA, Minn. — At the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers in the heart of the Twin Cities exists the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Community (MMDTC), a 125-member group who can trace their ancestry in the area back to the mid 1700s.

But because of issues stemming from the U.S.-Dakota conflict in 1862 when the federal government dissolved treaties with the Dakotas and drove most of them out of the state, MMDTC says it has been dispossessed of its land and federal tribal status.

Now, for the second time in 25 years, the Mendota Mdewakanton — a word to describe a number of Eastern Dakota or Sioux people — is seeking federal acknowledgement from the U.S. Department of the Interior.

“It’s very important,” said Chairwoman Sharon Lennartson, 74, who has led the MMDTC nonprofit entity for a decade and a half after helping the group organize in 1995. “We’ve wanted this since day one when we started our community.”

Like other Mendota Dakota descendants of mixed-blood ancestry coming from the French fur traders, Lennartson grew up out of touch with her Indian heritage.

“I wasn’t raised Native,” she said. “I never got to dance with my aunties and uncles. That was all taken from me.”

In the late 1990s, groups of Mendota families organized to take back their identities. Their awareness came from the nearby Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, which put an ad in the paper looking for descendants. Lennartson’s grandfather was granted land to farm in Shakopee, and her cousins are enrolled tribal members. But Lennartson and several others didn’t qualify for membership under Shakopee’s bylaws.

“Where we really belong is in Shakopee,” said Richard LeClaire, MMDTC’s oldest member and Lennartson’s cousin. “They wouldn’t let us in. They cast us off and told us to go start your own club. And that’s exactly where we are today.”

Lennartson said the main push behind federal recognition hinges on reclaiming historic properties once belonging to their ancestors, including the DuPuis House where her grandparents once lived. The house is currently owned by the state and operated by the Minnesota Historical Society, which gives MMDTC permission to host monthly meetings there.

Additionally, federal recognition would allow MMDTC to apply for certain federal grants and pools of money to help fund programs, such as Dakota language classes, and the group’s annual powwow.

Mendota historian and MMDTC member Greg Strandmark said he feels confident the tribe will meet the Department of Interior’s seven mandatory criteria to gain federal recognition, despite the tribe’s ill preparedness in the process decades earlier.

The group didn’t follow through on its 1996 petition past the “technical assistance” phase because it didn’t have enough research to make its case to the Department of the Interior’s Office of Federal Acknowledgement, which determines if a petition will move through the process of acknowledgment.

“It was a fairly incomplete petition back then,” Strandmark said.

A technical assistance letter from the Office of Federal Acknowledgements informed the MMDTC at the time that “these materials do not provide an adequate basis on which the (Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs) could make a determination concerning federal government acknowledgment under all seven criteria.”

However, after several trips to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and Kansas, plus more information being made available online, the group is ready to submit a petition once again.

Arlinda Locklear, an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and an attorney practicing federal Indian Law for 35 years, said the process of filing a petition presents “a quadruple whammy” for tribes.

The process of meeting all seven criteria requires a “high burden of proof” that necessitates expert analysis, which is expensive especially for resource strapped unrecognized tribes. On top of that, the people who could provide oral testimonies and documentation that might help prove certain criteria for a tribe are aging, Locklear said, noting the federal recognition process can take a generation to complete.

“You have this really awful evidentiary requirement placed upon people with no resources, but at the same time they’re trying to comply with that, they’re losing generations of people who have access to some of that information,” she said. “It’s not uncommon for tribes to spend 20 to 30 years … in the preparation of and in following the processing of these petitions.”

According to Locklear, garnering the extensive documents and expert analysis needed for a strong petition could cost tribes close to $1 million.

For MMDTC, which has existed entirely through volunteers, the petition has cost $500,000 in time and money, according to Strandmark’s estimates.

Challenges from Indian Country

Beyond meeting the onerous criteria from the federal government, the MMDTC also faces challenges from other tribes. To that end, the nearby Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community disputes Mendota’s legitimacy as a tribe.

At the crux of the argument, the Shakopee contend that when Congress bought land for Dakota communities in the 1800s, the Mendota were left out, unlike the other three recognized Dakota communities in Minnesota.

“Land was purchased at Prairie Island, Lower Sioux, and Shakopee,” the community wrote in a statement to Tribal Business News.  “Land was never purchased at Mendota. Based upon our understanding of the tribal recognition process, there is no factual basis for a tribe to secure recognized government status at Mendota.”

A letter from a BIA agent to the commissioner in 1888 noted that land wasn’t purchased for the local Native community in Mendota because it was significantly more expensive than what the agency was willing to spend. The cost at “$500 per acre” in Mendota compared to $15 an acre elsewhere, likely because of the proximity to St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Locklear noted that federally recognized tribes can oppose the recognition process of other tribes as a means of self-preservation and staving off competition for gaming ventures in many cases. For the Shakopee specifically, the tribe’s existing casino would inevitably be threatened if the Mendota were to open a casino less than 10 minutes from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

“A lot of recognized tribes have a policy of opposing the recognition of any tribe in their vicinity,” Locklear said. “I’ve seen it in (the) Northwest, I’ve seen it on the east coast. It happens all over the country. It happens when there is potential for gaming competition. It happens when there is potential for participation in a pro-rata share of treaty fishing rights. It happens when there is concern about sharing limited Indian Health Services appropriations.

“A lot of these reasons … relate to there being too little resources on the table in the first place for Native communities.”

Kevin Washburn (Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma), the former Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior and current dean at the University of Iowa College of Law, said that in some cases, the challenges from one tribe group to another goes beyond economic considerations.

If there was no gaming in the world, I’m not sure that the opposition would go away,” he said. “It goes to the core of identity in some cases.”

‘Generational’ process

Ultimately, MMDTC members expect the road to federal recognition will be a long one. Currently, the BIA has six petitions “in process” that have each been submitted as far back as 1994, with no time limit set for a decision. An additional five potential tribes are in the pipeline once they supplement their petitions.

“Most of these tribes that have gone through federal recognition, they’ve been going through it for decades. It’s generational,” Strandmark said. “If we get federal recognition, I’ll go to the spirit world knowing that 100 years from now, the community will still be there. It won’t be forgotten in history.”

Want more news about the $130 billion tribal economy? 

Tribal Business News publishes thoroughly reported and well-crafted stories about Native businesses and entrepreneurs, growth and expansion strategies, best practices, economic data, government policy and other relevant business news. Tribal Business News is required reading for tribal council members and leaders of Native businesses, as well as state and federal legislators, policymakers, economic developers, entrepreneurs, bankers, lawyers and anyone interested in doing business in Indian Country.

About The Author
Jenna Kunze
Staff Writer
Jenna Kunze is a reporter for Native News Online and Tribal Business News. Kunze’s bylines have appeared in The Arctic Sounder, High Country News, Indian Country Today, Smithsonian Magazine and Anchorage Daily News. In 2020, she was one of 16 U.S. journalists selected by the Pulitzer Center to report on the effects of climate change in the Alaskan Arctic region. Prior to that, she served as lead reporter at the Chilkat Valley News in Haines, Alaska. Kunze is based in New York.
Other Articles by this author

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

IMPORTANT BIA UPDATE! To all members: call the office make sure your file is in order

To all current members in good standing, please call the office make sure your file is in order and complete. If you want you file to go to the BIA.

We are working on how we are going to send in the narrative when it is done. We want you to understand what the process  and when this will happen. Hope to have a meeting maybe at the DuPuis House outside? We will keep you informed.

Your tribal council

Sharon, John,Jason and Greg.

Please use Amazon Smile and Our Tribe Will Earn Donations!

Hello, everyone just a reminder to use Amazon Smile by using this link: www.mendotadakota.com/amazon
 
(If that link doesn’t work, here is the direct link:  https://www.linksmile.amazon.com/ch/41-1848659)
 
When you use amazon to shop, Mendota gets a percentage of all orders because we are a 501C3 charity and the best thing, is YOU WILL NOT BE CHARGED ANYTHING!.
 
We have been getting small donations from amazon for about 3 years now.
 
Thank you Judy and Greg S, for telling us about the donations thru Amazon. On Amazon there are charities amazon donates too.
 
If Amazon asks you which charity, please search for Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Community.
 
When you’re on amazon we should see on the top left hand corner right under search. Supporting: Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Community for your Charity that you have chosen.
 
Thank you all for helping us to get donations thru Amazon.
Happy Shopping!!
Mendota Tribal Council.
Love Sharon
Mendota Dakota Amazon Smile

Update about (Red Sky) Jimmy Anderson passing from a heart attack on 6-27-2019.

Here is an update about (Red Sky) Jimmy Anderson passing from a heart attack on 6-27-2019.

Please light a candle for Jim for 4 days.
A ceremonial fire will be lit Saturday 6/29 at 3:00pm and will run continuously until Wednesday July 3rd. The fire will be at St Peter Church. The fire will be started by Lawrence and Tommy. Lon will do a Pipe Ceremony. Please bring a dish to pass. There will also be an inipi (sweat) at 6pm on Saturday at the DuPuis House.

There is still no date for the funeral. I will post more details as I know more.

Remember his laugh, remember his humor, his compassion for others, smile when you think of him. I loved him so much and will miss him so much this is a devastating lose to our family.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, 952-219-0196. If you want to contact Linda, Patty, Kathy or Vicky go on facebook.

Love Sharon

Jim Anderson Jimmy Anderson Redsky Chief Mendota Dakota tribe dies

Honoring Our Ancestors Saturday Feb 9, 2019

Honoring Our Ancestors Saturday Feb 9, 2019 down at Ft Snelling State Park. After ceremony feast at the DuPuis House in Mendota MN. Print the flyer that is your permit. Flyers will also be at the Gate below the Mendota Bridge. Download flyer for more information. Thank You the Mendota Tribal Council. Please be there! -Sharon

Download or print the flyer: FLYER Honoring Our Ancestors 2019

Honoring Our Ancestors Saturday Feb 9, 2019. We will meet even if it is very cold. Consider the people back in 1862 who were forced to walk with no food, warm clothes, and no real shelters. Many were woman and children, the sick and elderly. In Addison to the above, native people lost everything they knew and loved. EVERYTHING!

On December 26, 1862, the U.S. military lynched 38 of our Dakota patriots in the largest mass execution in United States History. On November 7, 1862, a group of about 1,700 Dakota, primarily women and children, were forcibly marched from the Lower Sioux Agency to a concentration camp at Fort Snelling.

Saturday February 9, 2019
We will light the sacred fire at 10:00 am by Robert Klanderud assisted by Tommy, Perry, and Lon. Ceremony is at 11:00 am.

Where
Fort Snelling State Park.
The park entrance is off Highway 5 at Post Road near the Minneapolis / St. Paul International Airport.
Drive down into the park, go inside the building to get your free pass, which is this flyer, or print it now. Mendota will have flyers at the entrance building too. Thank You to the DNR for their help each year.

Please bring a dish to share for the potluck from 12:30ish to 3:00ish. Potluck or feast will be at the DuPuis House, also called the Sibley Site.

1357 Sibley Memorial Hwy Mendota, MN 55150 across from Lucky’s 13.

If you need more information, please call the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Community office 651-452-4141. Dress warm, the ceremony is outside women should wear skirts pants underneath to keep warm. Please bring some tobacco. Please bring some doughnuts or rolls to share.

Steve will provide coffee from JS Bean Factory.
Pidamaya ye

Sponsored by the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Council and its members.

Sharon Lennartson Tribal Chairwoman Sharon Lennartson Chairwoman, John LeClaire Vice Chairman, Marlene Dixon Secretary / Treasurer, Perry Altendorfer Historian, Lon Navarre Member at Large.

Both Tribal / Membership Meetings cancelled for Monday Jan 28

Both Tribal / Membership Meetings cancelled for Monday Jan 28, 2019 due to very cold weather and 5 – 8 inches of snow.  Next membership meeting Sunday Feb 24, from 12:30 to 3:00. Potluck. Please bring any pictures or stories about your family living in Mendota if you think we don’t already have them? I have come across many stories that have been told. We still need more. If any of your information has changed please call the office to update. Very important that your membership is current. Your Tribal Council Sharon, John, Marlene, Perry, and Lon.

Important information & update from tribal leader Sharon Lennartson

Hau mitakuyapi. We understand that troubling information is circulating on Facebook concerning our tribal community. We wish to clarify.

We support the health and safety of vulnerable people, including women and children. We do not condone the abuse or keeping captive of another person. Our Tribal Chairwoman is respectful of all people and does not speak poorly of others.

We have spiritual leaders. Joseph Bester pours the water for the inipi. Emmett Eastman is the spiritual advisor for the wacipi.

Today our Tribal Council met. Actions have been taken.

We ask the Creator to help us to always walk in a good way with a good heart and do good things for all our relations.

Please contact the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Office if you have questions. Pidamaya.