Honoring Indigenous People
In May 2023, Minnesota officially replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day. This marks a commitment to honor Indigenous people, culture, and history. It reminds us that there were many Indigenous nations thriving and stewarding the land long before the arrival of European settlers. It acknowledges the genocide, forced assimilation, and ongoing displacement of Native people in this country as a result of violent colonization.
In September 2023, the New Brighton City Council declared October 9, 2023, Indigenous Peoples' Day. The proclamation (PDF) mentions the adoption of a Land Acknowledgment to highlight its commitments moving forward.
New Brighton's Land Acknowledgment
The City of New Brighton recognizes the Dakota people as the original caretakers of Mni Sota Makoce. We acknowledge the centuries of violence, oppression, and displacement perpetrated by our state and federal government to acquire the land where we live, work, and play.
Indigenous people are still here and will continue to enrich our community in immeasurable ways. We are committed to:
- Raising awareness of persisting consequences of historical legacies.
- Amplifying the vibrancy of Indigenous people and culture.
- Elevating the ongoing connection between Dakota people and the land we call home.
Creating a land acknowledgment was not a process we took lightly. There were many steps to ensuring the statement truly reflected our current understanding, values, and commitment.
- Educating our internal Equity Strategic Action Team (ESAT) on Indigenous cultures and best practices for creating a land acknowledgment.
- ESAT reviewed over 30 statements from nearby organizations and municipalities as well as statements offered by New Brighton residents to create our initial draft statement.
- The draft statement underwent multiple review and editing sessions with ESAT members to ensure each word was intentional.
- The proposed statement was presented to Equity Commission, City Council, and a Focus Group with Native people representing the Dakota, Lakota, Nakota, and Ojibwe nations. Each group offered feedback that helped to refine the language, intentionality, and impact of our land acknowledgment.
Throughout all our conversations, the primary focus was to ensure that a land acknowledgment was only the beginning of our journey. New Brighton city leaders are excited to build relationships with our Indigenous community members, learn more about Indigenous culture and history, and engage all community members as we explore pathways forward.
We invite residents to also learn more about Indigenous people, take action to counter the centuries of erasure and oppression of Indigenous culture, and support Indigenous organizations and efforts. Visit our Amplify Indigenous page for more resources.
Dakota people called their homeland "Mni Sóta Maḳoce," which means "Land Where the Waters Reflect the Clouds." It is the inspiration for the name "Minnesota."
Words in every language often carry deeper meaning and context than can be expressed through translation. The following is one possible direct translation of Mni Sota Makoce:
Mni (m-nē) = water
Sota (sō-tah) = cloudy
Makoce (mah-kō-chay) = land
Indigenous History in New Brighton
The Twin Cities was home to two Dakota groups: Wahpekute and Mdewakanton. Around 1740, the Mdewakanton Dakota people settled on the northside of Long Lake near the inlet of Rice Creek. They called their village "Otonwewakpadan," which means "Village on a Stream."
The Dakota people harvested wild rice in the creek and had a robust community. The French called it the Grand Village during the 1700s fur trade. In the 1830s, a French geographer reported it was the largest Dakota village in the region. (New Brighton Area Historical Society)
In this area near Long Lake, Theodore Lewis diagrammed a map of a 85' x 11' burial mound in 1887 (right). Found in this mound were "human bone fragments, pieces of pottery, pipes, arrowheads, and other items." (https://llianewbrighton.org/History-of-Long-Lake)
Additionally, the New Brighton Area Historical Society (NBAHS) has an arrowhead collection donated by Leone Aronson. The Aronson arrowhead collection was made by children searching for artifacts on the mounds in the area. Recent archaeologists have found little there, suggesting the village site was heavily disturbed by the stockyards and truck farming. The collection is currently the best evidence of early Native Americans in New Brighton; some items date as early as 5500 BC. (New Brighton Area Historical Society)
In addition to the arrowhead collection, the NBAHS website features a presentation about "The Dakota People on Long Lake."