Honoring Dakota Project
Honoring Dakota Project. Art by Art Kenyon.

The Honoring Dakota Project has been progressing over the past several months. 

In January, the organizers held events during their winter carnival and invited the community to experience traditions in Prairie Island like ice fishing, storytelling and harvest hikes. 

April is another big month for the project, many events are scheduled. 

The project is hosting various “cultural and traditional teachings of our buffalo relatives.”

“The Dakota people share a special connection with the Tantaka Oyate, or buffalo people. They are spiritual relatives whose fates have been inseparable for centuries,” project organizers said.

There have been efforts to return buffalo to Prairie Island. 

“In 1992, the Lakota Nation of South Dakota, after receiving financial support from the Prairie Island Indian Community, gifted the Tribe Shooting Star, a 6-year-old bull,” organizers said. “Tribal elders and tribal council decided that Shooting Star represented an opportunity to permanently return buffalo to Prairie Island.”

The Memorial Buffalo Project began after this decision and the herd located on Prairie Island now numbers 300. 

The next series of events begins April 3 and there will be cultural teachings that focus on buffalo that once roamed the land that is now Red Wing and Prairie Island. 

“The series recognized the impact of the Prairie Island Indian Community’s Edwin W. Buck Jr Veteran Memorial Buffalo Project has in preserving the Dakota culture and teachings,” project organizers said.

April Events

April Events

April events planned for the Honoring Dakota Project. 

There are multiple opportunities open to all communities in April. 

On April 3 at 6 p.m., a presentation will be held at the Red Wing Public Library in the Foot Room. The presentation will teach about the history of buffalo that once roamed here. It will be a cultural and traditional teaching of buffalo as our relatives. 

On April 13, there will be two tours of the Edwin W. Buck Jr Veteran Memorial Buffalo Project. Located at 5636 Sturgeon Lake Road in Welch. 

The tours will be at 11 a.m. and at 1 p.m.

This will be an opportunity for community members to learn about the project and once again learn the cultural and traditional teachings of buffalo. Buffalo burgers will be served to all attendees. 

April 19 in the Red Wing Ignite Community Room located at 419 Bush St., at 6 p.m. there will be a presentation “Before the Europeans: Dakota Lands of Present Red Wing.”

The event description says, “The audience will be provided a vision of the nature-related aspects of the Red Wing Area: What it was like for those who were here before the wave of European settlement? What natural forces shaped this land?”

More questions will be answered during this presentation and visions of what the landscape looked like and how it supported the Dakota people that lived here for generations. 

A buffalo kill ceremony will be held from April 3 through April 9. This will not be open to the public. 

This ceremony will be an opportunity for the Prairie Island Indian Community to deepen their cultural roots and teach their youth. 

“This will be led by community elders passing on their transitions to the youth by harvesting a buffalo,” project organizers said in a news release. 

Austin Owen will be a guide and a culture bearer during this ceremony. He is taking on the role of his father Art Owen. 

“This generation must take care of the four legged, who came back to us,” he said. “It is our responsibility to take care of them. Oyate Inipikta pi, which means ‘they game themselves, so people could live.”

The Project

The Honoring Dakota Project is a part of a bigger picture for the people in Red Wing and Prairie Island Indian Community. 

The goal is to bridge the relationship between the two communities. It is also a part of more agreements and projects with organizations in the community. 

The presentations and projects contribute to a recent agreement between the city of Red Wing and Prairie Island Indian Community. 

The agreement states, “We will cooperate, to the extent feasible, in encouraging economic development opportunities and pursuing projects for the protection of natural and cultural resources within the geographic boundaries of the city.”

The Honoring Dakota Project focuses on the relationship building between the two communities and celebrating the cultural heritage of the Dakota people. 

“The Honoring Dakota Project is about doing transformational work, relationship building and healing the relationships between our communities,” Red Wing Arts Executive Director Emily Guida Foos said. 

“Acknowledging the Dakota identity and celebrating the cultural heritage of the Dakota Community through art can be healing for a population that has been misrepresented and has experienced historical trauma and additionally for a community that has a shared history,” she continued. 

Lessons from our Inclusive Economic Stories Project is another way to focus on the diverse economic structure in downtown Red Wing. 

“This is a chance to learn from our Prairie Island Community Members about how their village, once located where downtown Red Wing now sits, honored and leveraged the land, river, plants and animals here to create a successful sovereign nation” Executive Director Downtown Main Street Red Wing Megan Tsui said. 

“We can use those teachings and learnings to create a more equitable economic future for our downtown and our communities,” she continued.

The projects are ongoing and more events will be scheduled throughout this year. 

The Honoring Dakota Project will culminate in October of this year with a mural that depicts the findings and relationship building that occurred over the last year.

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