Ancient Legacies

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Large burial mound at White Bear Lake, Minnesota.

The tenure of the lands up the Upper Midwest by the Dakota (the eastern branch of the Lakota people, frequently also called Sioux) and Anishinaabe (also known as Ojibwe, Ojibwa and Chippewa) peoples can be archaeologically dated to a minimum of 11,300 years ago. Dakota oral histories describe an even longer occupation, starting with the gift of the land by the Creator in illo tempore. Anishinaabe oral history relates a prophecy where the people were told to move West, “to where the food grows on water.” Archaeological evidence indicates this was approximately 500 years ago. Regardless, the people themselves are, of course, still here.

What is perhaps so astonishing about the non-Native version of the history of Native America is that it essentially starts and ends with the colonization of the Upper Midwest by Europeans, a period of only a few centuries. Dakota and Anishinaabe traditions and culture are far older than that, and endure to this day.