Eli Taylor, left, the legendary Canadian Dakota elder, historian and educator shakes hands and urges Diversity Foundation Executive Director Lyle Rustad (back in 1997) to keep working toward reconciliation and recording the history and stories of Dakota elders. Taylor passed away shortly after this interview.
After a interview at the 1997 Mankato Reconciliation ceremonies, shortly before his passing at age 92, Eli Taylor strongly urged Diversity Foundation Executive Director Lyle Rustad to “keep on working toward ‘Reconciliation’ and healing between the Native and white people” and that we should continue filming, recording and telling the History and stories of “all the Dakota elders before it is too late and this culture and history will be lost forever.”
As a descendent of Minnesota's 1862 "Dakota Exile" into Canada, he heard many of his ancestors stories about the atrocities and suffering at the hands of the "whiteman." Raised on the isolated and impoverished Sioux Valley Reserve in Canada, he overcame a rough childhood.
"Uncle Eli," as he became known to many of both cultures, had but 6 months of formal education, being mainly "self-taught," he learned mostly from his elders. His willingness to "forgive" the European for "the past" allowed him to go on and become one of the Dakota peoples greatest and most respected teachers, co-authoring a textbook on Dakota language and culture still used in classrooms today.
Eli Taylor's niece Marcie, his wife Edna, Mike Hotaine, and Marcie's husband at Sioux Valley Pow Wow in 1997
Eli with Bud Lawrence and Jim Buckley, along with Dakota Spiritual leader Amos Owen of Prairie Island, helped co-found the Mankato "Reconciliation" Wacipi. Despite Eli's age and "fragile health" at the time. His granddaughter "Marcie" and her husband Joe Halfe drove "Uncle Eli" down from Sioux Valley, Canada just to attend Mankato's special 135th Memorial and Parkette Dedication ceremonies in 1997. They are shown in front of a Tipi at Mankato's "Land of Memories Park" where Diversity Productions was conducting many of its elder interviews.
Another photo taken at the 2001 Sioux Valley Pow Wow, has "Uncle Eli's" widow Edna , Nephew Mike Hotaine, and again Marcie and Joe Halfe. Marcie is now a social worker in Vancouver and husband Joe is a Manitoba Probations Officer. Like his uncle Eli, Mike Hotaine became a leading Dakota historian and teacher. Before he was a teenager Mike was already working along side his grandfather as a Pow Wow announcer. His knowledge, wit and personality led to his high demand and to his becoming one of the most popular and widely recognized MC's across the US and Canada, and at some of the largest International Pow Wows. Mike and Marcie are both serving as "Dakota project advisors" to Diversity's "Mitakuye Owasin" Documentary series.