At Pezihutazizi Oyate Traditional Wacipi (Upper Sioux Nation Powwow)

Here is a better photo of Sherry Welch’s daughter, Bernadette Makes Room for Them, Apache-Lakota, at the annual Powwow at the Upper Sioux Nation on the Yellow Medicine River near Granite Falls, Minnesota.
According to the Upper Sioux Nation’s website: We call this place, “Pejuhutazizi Kapi, the place where they dig for Yellow Medicine. The Dakota Oyate (Nation) has lived here for 1000s of years,” except for a short period of time after the Sioux Uprising of 1862, led by Chief Little Crow and other war chiefs.
Bernadette and her mother scoffed when I mentioned the Sioux Uprising at breakfast. “Uprising! We were starving. They never gave us the food they promised us.”
After Lincoln sent four regiments of infantry to suppress the Dakota war parties, and after hanging 38 Dakota warriors the day after Christmas in 1862 in Mankato, MN – America’s largest mass execution – Congress rescinded the treaties the US had ratified with the Dakota granting them permanent reservation lands in return for ceding almost the entire Territory of Minnesota (under threat of force, and with promises of annuities and provisions which were rarely forthcoming) and expelled them from their treaty lands along the Minnesota River. As the Upper Sioux Nation’s website states:
“At that time the Dakota were either
exterminated, forcibly removed to reservations located somewhere else,” or else they fled to avoid harm.
“Many Dakota died during these difficult years. Some of those who survived the forced removal defied the state and federal governments by not remaining on the assigned reservations located outside of Minnesota, but rather chose to return to our ancient homelands in the Minnesota River Valley.”
In 1938, the state and federal governments reversed themselves and granted the Dakota 746 acres of land on the Minnesota River. More recently, 654 more acres were added to the Nation’s land base. Their population now stands at 482.
They operate the Prairie’s Edge Casino, an RV park and other enterprises.
The Yellow Medicine referred to in the tribal name and also the Minnesota County of the same name (Yellow Medicine County) is the Moonseed (Menispermum Canadense). The roots of this plant are used as a diuretic or nervier; in large doses as a purgative; externally the root is used as a salve for chronic sores.
When I mentioned to Sherry and Bernadette that I had started my bike tour to Standing Rock from the Mashpee Wampanoag Nation they said they had met some Mashpee at a powwow once.
They added, “If the Apache and the Lakota had met the Pilgrims they never would have made it off the boat.” These women know how to tell a good joke.
But they weren’t laughing when they said that.


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