The time is near when Winona will again welcome home the Dakota Indians who lived in the shade of Wapasha’s Cap long before white settlers set foot on American soil.
June 2 and 3, 2007 will be the Fourth Annual Great Dakota Gathering and Homecoming, a time when Winonans and Dakotas alike reflect on the pain, the healing and the understanding that shapes the relationship we have with each other today. For the Dakota Indians who travel from as far away as Canada, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota, it is a bittersweet homecoming, marred by the ancestral memory of the days when this land was taken from their people and they were shuttled off to remote reservations in desolate places.
WINONA, Minn. - In the land where the “waters reflect the sky,” citizens of Winona, Minnesota welcomed back the indigenous Dakota Oyate who once inhabited this lush green island city situated along the banks of the Mississippi.
The Otakuye Hdihunipi or Third Annual Great Dakota Gratings and Homecoming on Wapasha Prairie on June 3 and 4 was an experience like no other where Wasicun (Caucasian) and Dakota worshipped, danced, feasted, shared stories and played together for two days along the shores of beautiful Lake Winona.
More Dakota Attend Homecoming (06/07/2006) By Cynthya Porter, Winona Post
WINONA, Minn.– Hundreds of them came, and signs hung everywhere to greet them saying, “Welcome home, Dakotas.”
From solemn sunrise spiritual services to the thundering drum of joyous powwows, the weekend was filled with the sights, sounds, and memories of the Dakota nation coming home to a place many call sacred.
Organizers said as word of this event spread throughout the Indian nations of the Midwest and Canada, more and more have made it a priority to come over the past three years.
This year, said Diversity Foundation’s Lyle Rustad, some 400 or more Native Americans came to town to see this place they heard had opened its arms to their culture, their history.
At the wacipis, or powwows, Saturday and Sunday, throngs of people of European decent rose to the beat of the drums and joined the dance in the celebration circle. “We are all related,” emcee Danny Seaboy told the crowd. “We come from different places, but we are all human beings, and we are related.”
In the learning tent, visitors were able to read books, see displays and hear stories about the Dakota nation and the history of Native Americans told from their memories, not ours. It was a time not of admonishment, but understanding for those willing to listen.
The sly maneuvering of the Moccasin Games, something akin to an elaborate shell and pea game, captivated large crowds who stood for hours to watch teams from the United states and Canada outfox each other in a battle of wits.
Later, after one of the game carpets sat empty, a mixture of local boys and girls reenacted their own version of the game, with an elder teaching them the rules from a chair nearby. “The kids will remember this,” he said. “It’s good for them to share this with us, to grow up understanding something about us. It is something our ancestors didn’t have,” he said.
WINONA, Minn.– The songs may be unfamiliar and the names hard to pronounce, but a sense of home is universal.
It’s that sense of commonality that will be celebrated at the third annual Great Dakota Gathering and Homecoming on Saturday and Sunday at Lake Park.
The even was begun as reconciliation for the Dakota American Indians who called Winona home until the European settlers and the United States military forced them out. Many Dakota members attend the homecoming every year.
The homecoming had been in the planning process for years and is sponsored by the city of Winona, The Diversity Foundation, and the Winona Dakota Unity Alliance.
Diversity Foundation Chairman Edward Lohnes Jr. is a descendent of Dakota Chief Waanatan and an enrolled member of Spirit LakeDakota Nation.
WINONA, Minn. - While Winona, or Wapasha’s Prairie, is the ancestral home of only some of the Native American people who will converge on Lake Park this weekend, for many others it is a symbolic homecoming of mind and spirit just the same.
From sunrise to sundown, Lake Park will host opportunities for reconciliation, for understanding, for celebrating, and all visitors need do is come with an open mind to experience it.
Saturday and Sunday, East Lake Winona will be the site of the 3rd Annual Hdihunipi, the Great Dakota Gathering and Homecoming at Wapasha Prairie.