Through five generations at Pejuhutazizi (the place where they dig the yellow medicine), Teresa Peterson’s family members have listened to and told stories: stories of events, migrations and relationships in Dakota history, and stories that carry Dakota culture through tales, legends and myths.
SWIF board and staff experienced these stories for ourselves as part of a group book read and author visit this fall. Teresa co-authored “Voices from Pejuhutazizi: Dakota Stories and Storytellers” with her uncle Walter “Super” LaBatte Jr. Both are Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota and members of Peżihutazizi Oyate (Upper Sioux Community). Teresa is also on the SWIF Board of Directors.
SWIF board and staff read the book individually, then spent time together with the authors at the new Caŋṡayapi Wicoicage Oti at Lower Sioux Indian Community. This intergenerational cultural incubator and community center provides space for all ages to connect. It hosts recreation and social events grounded in Dakota culture, as well as many classes: regalia making, pottery, quilling, photography, videography, computers, meal training and more. SWIF helped support early design efforts for this project through grant funding.
Sitting in the circle star room at Caŋṡayapi Wicoicage Oti with Teresa and Super, we learned about their family’s tradition of storytelling and the way those stories connected them to their culture, the land and each other. Super is an artist who tans hides, makes drums and beads moccasins, but he’s also known for his paṡdayapi, Indian corn soup made with corn soaked in lye.
Super has been growing the corn since he retired. He teaches others how to make the soup because he wants the dish to continue on. Thanks to Anne O’Keefe-Jackson, we enjoyed paṡdayapi (posh DIE uh pee) for lunch at the incubator. Anne is a member of the Caŋṡayapi Oyate (Lower Sioux Indian Community), an artist, an entrepreneur and a human resources professional. She participated in the Initiators Fellowship from our region, and as part of her fellowship launched a food truck she takes to wacipis (powwows) and other community events.
After lunch, Lower Sioux Indian Community’s Recreation Director Mat Pendleton gave us a tour of the incubator, from puzzles laid out in the dining area where elders can get daily hot meals to drawers of ribbons and beads in the rooms dedicated to sewing and crafts. In the sound studio, we listened to a recording of an original track created by youth in the community.
The day held one more visit in store at the Lower Sioux Agency. Site Manager John Robertson is a tribal historian, a former high school educator and a retired Episcopal Minister. He shared his insights into Dakota culture and history and the causes of the US-Dakota War with us. Staff had a chance to explore the exhibits, watch videos, tour the agency property and talk with John to close out our day.
We’re grateful to each of our hosts and guides during the day for helping SWIF staff and board deepen our understanding of and relationships with the Dakota communities that share our region’s geography.
Watch, listen or read to learn more
- Learn more about Teresa’s writing
- Hear Super tell the story of Maya Bdeg’a (Pelican Hill)
- Watch the Pioneer PBS Postcards episode featuring Super
- Listen to a story about Cansayapi Wicoicage Oti at Lower Sioux Indian Community produced by Minnesota Public Radio.
- Watch the videos we saw at Lower Sioux Agency that explore the causes and consequences of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.