Mni Sota Makoce (MP3) “where the water reflects the sky”
The Dakota have thrived here in Mni Sota Makoce since time immemorial. Southwest Initiative Foundation is located on the original and contemporary homelands of the Dakota people in Minnesota.
Mitakuye owas’iŋ (MP3) “we are all related”
Dakota people view the land as their relative. The land has nourished and sustained the Dakota for thousands of years, and they have cared for and continue to care for the land as a relative. We honor their responsibility and stewardship.
Wówicạke (MP3) “honesty”
Through treaties, the aftermath of the U.S.-Dakota war of 1862 and other actions, the U.S. government removed the Dakota from their lands and tried to erase their culture and their people. These actions caused harm that echoes through generations, to the Dakota Oyate, to Mni Sota Mokoce, to each of us. In Dakota culture, the language is sacred. Healing begins when we are honest about what happened and willing to invite change.
Caŋṡayapi (MP3) “where they marked the trees red”
Peżihutazizi K’api (MP3) “the place where they dig for yellow medicine”
Caŋṡayapi Oyate and Peżihutazizi Oyate are the two Native nations that share the geography of southwest Minnesota today. Also known as the Lower Sioux Indian Community and Upper Sioux Community, they are sovereign nations with distinct political status. Strength in their history and culture are the heart and spirit of their communities.
Mitakuyapi (MP3) “all my relatives”
Dakota culture teaches we were each created with gifts to work together, for the collective good. At Southwest Initiative Foundation, we also believe in working together. As partners, we share this geography of southwest Minnesota and its 18 counties with our Native nations.
Wówaditika (MP3) “courage”
Learning to be a good relative to Mni Sota Makoc̣e, to oneself, to family and community requires courage to meet the challenges to do something different. We’re committed to deepening our understanding of and relationships with tribal governments, with the Dakota people and with the land. Courage also calls us to action, using our resources to create opportunities for Indigenous people to thrive in the communities they call home. This includes grantmaking, education and social and economic development in collaboration with Caŋṡayapi Oyate and Peżihutazizi Oyate.
Join us on this journey.
The first step is to learn the story of the land you call home. Use our resource hub to listen, read, watch and explore.
Special thanks to these partners for their guidance and expertise:
- Samantha Odegard (Peżihutazizi Oyate), Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Upper Sioux Community
- Cheyanne St. John (Lower Sioux Tribal Citizen), Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Lower Sioux Indian Community
- Teresa Peterson (Peżihutazizi Oyate), Southwest Initiative Foundation Board Member
- Carly Bad Heart Bull (Bdewakantunwan Dakota and Muskogee Creek), Executive Director at Native Ways Federation
- Stephanie Zadora (Seneca), Operations and Program Manager at Native Ways Federation
- Vanessa Goodthunder, Sna Sna Wiƞ (C̣aƞṡayapi), Dakota Language Speaker and Teacher
- David Briese (citizen of the Cherokee Nation), Site Manager for Jeffers Petroglyphs
Note: English translations and the spellings of Dakota words that appear here are one interpretation of the Dakota language.