To honor our ancestors and continue our Dakota traditions, the Community engages in a variety of cultural activities. Each August the SMSC holds a three-day Wacipi (Pow Wow) on the reservation, which celebrates Native American culture with song and dance. Dancers of all ages from tribes around the country come to compete for thousands of dollars in prize money. The day before the Wacipi, the SMSC holds a dance exhibition in the Rotunda at the Mall of America with dancers, drum groups, and a Master of Ceremony who educates the crowd about the dance styles.
The Community works to preserve cultural sites, including Shakopee Memorial Park, which contains Mdewakanton burial mounds. Children and adults are learning the Dakota language, song, and dance. Each year Community youth celebrate Dakota heritage with Young Native Pride, a free event open to the public, which celebrates Native American culture, traditions, and spirituality through song and dance. Students and their family members and staff work toward the performance for months making outfits, doing beadwork, sewing designs, cutting ribbon, making moccasins, and practicing dance styles. Each summer, youth spend several days at Culture Camp where they learn traditional lifeways, crafts, songs, and values.
A cultural center is planned to display many of the thousands of items in the Community archival collection. In the meantime, cultural galleries, which display Dakota pieces in the lobbies of the SMSC Community Center, Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, and the Mystic Lake Store at the Mall of America, rotate periodically.
The SMSC does not release specific membership information. A small tribe, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is a testament to survival in the face of extreme odds: government policies of termination, religious convictions to “kill the Indian but save the man,” removal from tribal lands, exclusion from Minnesota, racial persecution, bounties for their scalps, and more. It is a wonder that any members have survived and that the SMSC continues to thrive today.
There are eleven federally recognized Indian tribes that make their home in Minnesota.
There are 566 federally recognized Indian tribes in the United States, each with their own distinctive values, culture, history, political structure, and language.
The federal government made thousands of treaty obligations with Sovereign Nations when establishing a land base for the United States. These treaties established a nation-to-nation relationship between Indian tribes and the United States federal government which is still in effect today.
In exchange for giving up their lands, tribes retained their sovereignty, their powers of self-government over their lands and members. As a sovereign nation, these tribes are subject to federal powers, but not generally to the authority of state, county, or city governments. This is why tribes may not legally be taxed.
The United States Congress has the exclusive power to regulate Indian affairs. A state, by contrast, only has the power over Indian affairs within tribal territory that Congress has specifically given it, which is quite limited.
Federal government policies split up the Great Sioux Nation into many smaller communities. The seven nations which comprised the historic Oceti Sakowin [oh-che-tee sah-koh-ween] (the Seven Council Fires) are found on these reservations: Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (MN), Upper Sioux (MN), Lower Sioux (MN), Prairie Island (MN), Sisseton-Wahpeton (SD), Santee (NE), Flandreau Santee (SD), Yankton Sioux (SD), Standing Rock (SD), Cheyenne River (SD), Crow Creek (SD), Oglala Sioux (SD), Rosebud (SD), Lower Brule (SD), Spirit Lake (ND), and Ft. Peck (MT). There are also several Dakota reservations (called reserves) in Canada.
Mdewakanton - Indian name meaning - Dwellers of Spirit Lake or Mystic Lake
Wahpekute - Indian name meaning - Shooters in the leaves
Wahpeton - Indian name meaning - Dwellers in the leaves
Sisseton - Indian name meaning - Dwellers by the fish campground
Yankton - Indian name meaning - End of the village dwellers
Yanktonais - Indian name meaning - Little end of the village dwellers
Teton - Indian name meaning - Dwellers on the prairie or plains