(SAINT PAUL, Minn., Oct. 2, 2012)
In the Dakota language bdote is generally defined as a place where
two bodies of water meet. One particular site, at the junction of
the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers in the middle of Minneapolis
and Saint Paul, is sacred to the Dakota people, since for them it
is the center of the world the place where, according to
some, Dakota life began.
unique educational tool intended for all ages, but especially targeted
toward educators and students, the Bdote Memory Map is a unique
partnership between the Minnesota Humanities Center and Allies:
media/art, a Dakota-owned and award-winning private company located
in Minneapolis that specializes in media art production and research
and writing services. Bdote Memory Map is an introduction to some
traditional Dakota sites in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area, which
is focused on the bdote, or the confluence of the Mississippi and
Minnesota Rivers. It includes a website and other resources.
"Partnering with Allies: media/art, the
Minnesota Humanities Center connects teachers and their students
through greater understanding and deeper meaning of this place we
call home," says Minnesota Humanities Center Vice President Matthew
Brandt. "For both American Indian students and their non-Indian
classmates, the Bdote Memory Map place-based approach connects them
to this place, to each other, and to themselves."
"The Dakota people have been intimately
connected to the region within and beyond the boundaries of 'Minnesota'
for a very long time," says Mona Smith (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate
Dakota), owner and artist, Allies: media/art. "But origin stories
and events focus particular meaning on this particular bdote
now the Minneapolis-Saint-Paul area and is the focus of the
The Bdote Memory Map website, www.bdotememorymap.org,
includes maps with place names in Dakota and English and several
compelling videos, including "Telling River Stories," which combines
contemporary and historic photography with personal statements about
bdote in the voices of Dakota people. Among the most emotional parts
of video are the remembrances focused on Fort Snelling, Saint Paul,
built at the bdote of the two rivers, which was used as a concentration
camp for hundreds of Dakota people following the U.S.-Dakota Conflict
of 1862. The video is shown on the website with permission by the
River Life project of the Institute on the Environment at the University
of Minnesota. It is now available as "The Bdote Podcast," downloadable
from the University of Minnesota at http://goo.gl/1k5W1.
Other short videos on the website feature
included on the website feature several prominent Dakota people,
including: Dave Larsen, (Mdewakanton Dakota), tribal historian,
educator, former tribal chairman of Lower Sioux Indian Community
and former director of American Indian Affairs at MNSU/Mankato;
Diane Wilson, author and Dakota descendant; Ramona Stately (Santee
Dakota), coordinator for Indian education, Osseo School District
279; and Sydney Beane (Flandreau Santee), filmmaker and community
The website also includes an audio glossary,
so that visitors can learn how to pronounce several Dakota words
and phrases. In another video, Chris Mato Nunpa (Pezutazizi Oyate/Upper
Sioux Community), Ph.D., retired associate professor of Indigenous
Nations and Dakota Studies at Southwestern Minnesota State University/Marshall,
a traditional Dakota greeting.
The Bdote Memory Map also has been converted
for use on Internet connected mobile devices. "Now you can take
the voices of Dakota people with you when you visit these special
places," says Smith. Bdote Memory Map resources also are on Facebook,
WordPress, Twitter, Tumblr an Flickr.
"The Humanities Center's goal of amplifying
the Bdote Memory Map is education; specifically, a deeper more meaningful
student-teacher relationship since we know students experience greater
academic success when they see themselves and their lived experiences
reflected in the classroom," notes Brandt. "The Bdote Memory Map
helps teachers bring into their classrooms, in an authentic and
real way, the significance of the Bdote area, learning from Dakota
people the significance of their relationship to the place we now
History of the Project
The Bdote Memory Map began as
a part of the "City Indians" multi-media installation
at Ancient Traders Gallery on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis in
2005. On one wall of the gallery a large, stylized, painted map
of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area (centered on the confluence of
the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers) invited visitors to add their
own written memories and stories of traditional Dakota sites to
the map. A small number of traditional sites were shown on the map
by their Dakota names and illustrated by historical photographs.
The intent of the Memory Map portion of
the "City Indians" installation was to express the historic and
continued connection of Dakota people to places familiar to citizens
and visitors of the area.
"Introduction of traditional and sometimes
sacred places erased in public community memory is important to
the task of recognizing this region as Dakota homeland," said Smith.
"This 're-cognition' is important for the healing of the Dakota
people, of the non-Native residents of the area and of Mnisota Makoce
herself." More information about the projects can be found at www.alliesmediaart.com.
About the Minnesota Humanities
Focused on the future of the
state, the Humanities Center brings the unique resources of the
humanities to the challenges and opportunities of our times. We
work in partnership across the state to build thoughtful, literate,
and engaged citizens. With the unique resources of the humanities,
the Center builds community and brings into public life the untold
stories that deepen our connections to each other and help us imagine
and create a vibrant future. Visit www.mnhum.org.
About Allies: media/art
Founded in 1996 as a limited
liability company, Allies: media/art is a Dakota-owned and award-winning
private company located in Minneapolis that specializes in media,
art production, research and writing services. Visit www.alliesmediaart.com.