31st Annual Mahkato Education Day
September 22, 2017 9:00 - 3:00 pm.
Mahkato Mdewakanton Association
Education Committee Mission Statement:
The goal of the Mahkato Mdewakanton Dakota Education
Committee is to work collaboratively with Mdewakanton Dakota and non-Mdewakanton
Dakota communities in the design, development and implementation of cultural
educational programs and activities. Such programs and activities will
be designed to promote positive relationships through increased awareness
and understanding of Mdewakanton Dakota and non-Mdewakanton Dakota.
History of the Education Day Project Event:
The 1862 Dakota-US Conflict
in southern Minnesota resulted in the execution of 38 Dakota warriors
in the largest mass execution in US History. The need for reconciliation
efforts to heal wounds of the past was stressed during the 1987 Year of
Reconciliation. At that time a challenge was issued by Lakota educator,
writer, political activist, Vine Deloria, Jr. to create "new ceremonies"
involving Dakota, non-Dakota and the land. Such ceremonies, held on a
regular basis, are seen as essential to begin the building of a new shared-history.
Mahkato Education Day Program Design:
Mahkato Education Day Program Background:
In response to Vine Deloria,
Jr's challenge in 1987, Dakota communities and Mankato District 77 have
co-sponsored an educational program which provides Mankato area sixth grade
children, teachers and parents the opportunity to learn about and experience
southern Minnesota history and heritage. This opportunity occurs through
a unique direct-cultural exchange education program held each year in
September in conjunction with the Mdewakanton Dakota Wacipi (dance; gathering).
Mdewakanton Dakota and other tribal peoples gather in Mankato to teach
the children, teachers and parents about their culture and their meanings.
Over 10,000 children, teachers, assisting parents from the
Mankato school district and Native American resource people, from Canada,
Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin
have come to learn and teach about various aspects of Native American
The following is a description
of the direct-cultural exchange Mahkato Education Day program which is
held in conjunction with the Mdewakanton Dakota Wacipi (dance; gathering)
out of doors in September at Land of Memories Park. Learning stations
are located in seven (corresponding to the seven bands of the Dakota nation)
camps on the perimeter of a large open circle. Each learning station is
staffed with Native American resource persons who teach and demonstrate
one aspect of their culture. The number of learning stations has increased
from 12 (1987) to 35 (2003). Two two hour sessions take place. Half of
the sixth grade classes, their teachers and parents come in the morning
(between 300-400 persons) and the other half come in the afternoon between
The day begins with a fifteen minute "opening circle"
ceremony conducted by Dakota leaders. All students, teachers and parents
come together in the center of the large circle to listen and observe/participate
in the Dakota way of acknowledging the Great Creator.
At the end of the opening
ceremony, each class of children is directed to their assigned learning
station. Groups vary from 7-12 children. For fifteen minutes, they are
provided an opportunity to listen, watch, touch, try out and ask presenters
questions about their craft, way of life, etc. A horn is blown to signal
children and teachers to move to the next learning station in their camp
a clockwise fashion. Children shake hands with each resource person when
they leave the station as a way of saying "thank you." All in
all children visit five different learning stations.
A variety of learning station experiences have been
offered: storytelling, pipe making, moccasin making, flute making, head
roach making, jewelry making, pottery making, drum making, buffalo box
making, wild rice gathering, Dakota language, traditional men's regalia,
men's grass dance regalia, men's dance sticks and staffs, traditional
women's dance regalia and dance, women's jingle dress making and dance,
women's dance shawls, star quilt making, growing and using corn, tipi
living and tipi building, dream catcher making, moccasin game, children's
traditional games, leather work/tanning hides, ceremonial uses of tobacco,
children's games, flintknapping and tool making, drumming and songs, circle
dancing, preservation of foods.
Eagle from the raptor center
Lakota drum teaching song
The final fifteen minute
station draws all of the children back to the center into one large circle
group. A Native American drum group and dancers come to the center and
teach the children a circle or "friendship" dance. Everyone
joins hands and dances in a circle until they get to the exit opening
where all of the dancers shake hands with each one of the school participants.
They disperse to their individual buses and return to school.
Please Note: This program is for the sixth grade students
of the Mankato Area (ISD 77) public and parochial schools.
According to the feedback
received from children, teachers, parents and resource persons over the
last 20 years, this mutually-created-shared experience has been meaningful
on both a personal as well as professional level for many. There is a
stronger sense of community developing between the Dakota communities
and the Mankato community with the implementation of this program, one
that seems to be uniting persons in a spirit of respect, and appreciation
for each other. The collaborative efforts of both communities has created
possibilities for new positive shared-histories to develop, histories
that will hopefully influence and guide future generations in relationships.
Since 1987, over 16,000 children, teachers, parents and Native American
presenters have participated.