Major Legislative News

Major news!

The legislation providing a waiver to Minnesota State Building and Fire Codes for Indigenous building practices was just signed into law by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz on June 30, 2021. We have already received the waiver we need for earthlodge building from the Minnesota State Fire Marshal and are just waiting now on the  waiver from the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry. This is the last hurdle before we are free to build earthlodges in our homeland without being criminalized!

Wopida tanka to everyone who wrote letters, made phone calls and lobbied for our bill.

Meet Our 2021 Apprentices

We are delighted to introduce Zani Otuwe‘s 2021 Apprentices. Realizing it is essential to begin to train the next generation of leaders, Makoce Ikikcupi solicited applications to a four-month apprenticeship centered around earthlodge building and community development. We were looking for young adults interested in all aspects of cultural revitalization, including traditional housing and teachings, language, ceremony, food-sovereignty, and simple-living. In addition to earthlodge building, during their time with us, these apprentices will be learning about permaculture design and implementation, how to make garden sunlodges, about traditional plants, foods,  and medicines, history, language, land justice, and traditional governance practices in today’s world. In June 2021, we selected four outstanding young people who are now living on-site at Zani Otunwe. After completing the apprenticeship, it is our hope that these young people will be the earthlodge builders and sustainable living advocates of the future.

Jodi Gregerson

Haŋ mitákuyepi, čhaŋté waštéya napé chiyúzapi! 

My name is Jodi Gregerson and I’m from Standing Rock, though I currently live on Anishinaabe land near Detroit, Michigan. 

In addition to language reclamation and traditional ethnobotany, I love taking pictures, reading, traveling, movie and game nights with friends, and hanging out with my siblings.

I’m so grateful for this apprenticeship opportunity, and I’m looking forward to learning and experiencing everything that I can and helping to provide more opportunities to future generations of Očhéthi Šakówiŋ people.

James Jones

Hello, I’m James Allen Jones. I’m 19 years old. I am both Hunkpapa Lakota and Santee Dakota. I’m proud to say I’m a part of Makoce Ikikcupi or Land Recovery. The reason I’m here at Zani Otunwe is to try and reconnect in a way to those who came before, reconnect to my ancestors. Coming from Standing Rock, I was always taught two things: how to identify and use plants because of my mom, and how my people lived. This opportunity to be at Zani Otunwe is to reconnect to my people in a way. Some of my interests are art (all kinds), traveling, napping, and having all the fun I can.

Justin Barse

Hau. I am Justin Barse, currently enrolled on the Lake Traverse Reservation, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate. I was born in Wheaton, Minnesota and am of Wahpekute descent. I was raised in large families and through the years have done a lot of moving around. I am 25 years old and I know I have so much more yet to learn. I hope to learn, understand, and pass on the ways and culture as they were passed on the countless years before me. Tunkasina k’a Wakantanka, wopida!

Mikey Weston

Hau mitakuyapi, Mikey emakiyapi!
The biggest gain I have from the first couple weeks at Zani Otunwe is realizing how artificial life is. People live so close to nature everyday but never walk in the grass barefoot. Standing on mother earth is different than standing with Unci Maka. Walking down a sidewalk feels foreign to me now. Houses with electricity and air conditioning makes me feel very disconnected from my ancestors. I feel like I don’t belong in the towns. Too many conflicting emotions are present in daily lives when we should all just breathe and listen to the zintkada oyate


Oceti Sakowin Apprenticeship Opportunity

Makoce Ikikcupi (Land Recovery) is looking for four (4) hard-working Oceti Sakowin young adults for a four-month summer apprenticeship centered around earthlodge building and community development. We are looking for people interested in all aspects of cultural revitalization, including traditional housing and teachings, language, ceremony, food-sovereignty, and simple-living. If you are interested in helping to revive being Dakota/Lakota/Nakota as a way of life, this apprenticeship is for you. 

Zani Otunwe (Village of Wellness) is located in Granite Falls, Minnesota in the Minnesota River Valley. We have three earthlodges under construction with plans for four more at this site. It would be a summer of rustic living, in tipis and tents, with a compost outhouse, and solar shower. The village site is drug and alcohol-free. We would provide meals and a monthly stipend. 

In addition to earthlodge building, you would learn about permaculture design and implementation, how to make garden sunlodges, about traditional plants, foods,  and medicines, history, language, land justice, and traditional governance practices in today’s world. After completing the apprenticeship, it is our hope that with your newly acquired skills you might eventually be interested in living in one of our villages, and that you would commit to helping build future earthlodges for our land recovery project.

To find out more and request to be considered for this apprenticeship, let us know of your interest at:

Makoce Ikikcupi is a land recovery project. As beneficiaries of Minnesota’s policies of land theft, genocide, and ethnic cleansing, settlers occupying our traditional territory have contributed to a land buy-back project as personal acts of reparative justice. Our nonprofit uses those donations to buy back parts of our homeland where we can revive our relationship with our ancestral territory and recover Oceti Sakowin ways of being.

Applications due by May 31, 2021. Send to

This may be submitted in writing or through a short video. 

Include your name, age, contact information, Oceti Sakowin blood tie/lineage, and tell us who you are and why you would like to apprentice with us. 

We Need Your Support

Dear Supporters,

We are appealing to you to request your help passing legislation that would exempt Indigenous building practices from the State of Minnesota’s building codes.

The Makoce Ikikcupi (Land Recovery) project was launched in 2009 with contributions from settlers in Minnesota as a way to address the monumental crimes of land theft, genocide, ethnic cleansing, and colonialism perpetrated against Dakota people in our Minisota homeland. As current beneficiaries of those crimes, settlers have contributed personal funds to a land buy-back project. It was perceived as a way to right some historical wrongs. Thus, it is a project of reparative justice.

After a decade of fundraising, in summer 2019 we purchased our first small land parcel in Granite Falls, Minnesota with the intent of establishing a small community for landless Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires) people to return to this part of our homeland. Our vision is one of a culturally-grounded, sustainable community, one that is off-grid with no electricity or running water. That is, we hope to walk the path back to the ways of our ancestors, through language, through ceremony, and through simple ways of living. Part of this is the recovery of one of our traditional housing structures, the Dakota earthlodge.

Today, the city of Granite Falls has stated their support for our right to practice this aspect of our culture, but they are bound by state law to enforce adherence to the MN building codes. On September 16, 2019 we were issued a stop work order by the local building inspector and have been threatened with fines and legal charges if we continue building.

The codes were not written for structures of this kind and they clearly are at odds with our inherent right to practice our culture according to international law. Minnesota building codes were written to support western building practices rooted in industrial civilization. Adherence to those codes would require us to actually change the architecture and design of our earthlodges, thereby undermining our capacity to build according to our traditional concepts of planning, architecture, and engineering. We believe it is our inherent right as the Indigenous people of the land to practice our culture and not just build but also inhabit our traditional houses.

After a January 7, 2020 meeting with the Granite Falls city council, they agreed that the best long-term solution to this conflict is to seek a legislative exemption from the building codes for Indigenous building practices. The city council paid their attorneys to draft a legislative bill that was initially introduced in last year’s legislative session. That bill stalled with the onset of the COVID-pandemic. Thus we are trying again this current legislative session and this is an urgent issue for which we need your help.

While our people lived sustainably on the same land base for thousands of years without destroying it, in a few short centuries, Americans have plowed, mined, deforested, drain-tiled, exploited and poisoned our homeland. Today, 90 percent of our wetlands are gone and 98 percent of our prairies are gone. The waters that flowed through our rivers and streams are undrinkable, even unswimmable. These kinds of destructive practices are the same ones contributing to the planetary crisis we all face today. Now more than ever we need to strive toward a fossil-fuel free and sustainable future. Makoce Ikikcupi’s efforts to recover traditional ways of being rooted in natural law and sustainability should be supported in this context, as should all efforts by Indigenous Peoples to practice the ways of our ancestors.

According to MN Statutes (326B.082), violation of the building codes is a misdemeanor. Each violation can result in a $10,000 fine. Furthermore, the process grants unlimited access to the property to the commissioner who may: “with or without notice, enter without delay upon any property, public or private, for the purpose of taking any action authorized under this subdivision or the applicable law, including obtaining information, remedying violations, or conducting surveys, inspections, or investigations.” If violations are not remedied, or access to the property is not granted, or if we violate a stop order, we could be charged, additionally with contempt of court. If we persist, this could eventually result in arrest and jail time. A legislative exemption would prevent us from being criminalized for practicing our culture. Building Dakota earthlodges should not be illegal in Dakota homeland. We hope you will help us.

Please write your MN legislators today to express support of the bill exempting Indigenous building practices from the MN building codes!

Contact your legislator today in support of SF1087 and HF 1042!

Spring 2018 Newsletter

Celebrating an Ongoing Commitment to Justice 

By Waziyatawin, Executive Director

Greetings from the Governing Council of Makoke Ikikcupi (Land Recovery)!  We know this update has been a long time coming. Makoce Ikikcupi is an all-volunteer project, and because of this, our efforts are dependent upon our personal and professional schedules. The last few years have been especially busy for us, but now that we have time to take a breath, we wanted to share our progress with all of you. This gives us an opportunity to celebrate what remains an important example of reparative justice work, especially at a time when injustices are rampant around us.

The issue of settler-colonialism, of course, is particularly challenging, precisely because it is ongoing. Our project is about creatively addressing it through the concrete avenue of land reclamation. We could not do it without your consistent help. As we seek a possible land site for purchase, we would also like to ask our supporters to keep us apprised of possible land opportunities in your area or within your circle of friends and family. Ideally, we would like to couple our efforts with at least a partial land donation to leverage our buying capacity.

As always, we are grateful to all of our regular contributors who continue to demonstrate their commitment to reparative justice. We are happy to report that the amount of your collective donations has just crossed the $125,000 threshold!

At Tatanka Wakpala

Governing Council members Karen Ducheneaux, Luke Black Elk, and Linda Black Elk are all part of the Tatanka Wakpala Model Sustainable Community. Below is a message from Karen about their efforts:

Tatanka Wakpala is gearing up for another great year of growing, building, and learning. We are looking forward to completing our geodesic dome Tiyospaye Center. The dome was donated from Two Trees, Inc. and the dome shell was completed in September 2017.

Tatanka Wakpala volunteers worked as long as the weather allowed last fall completing the walls and extra rooms. As soon as the snow melts, we will start in again to complete the extra rooms, shingle the dome, finish the interior and then work on the solar/wind hybrid system for the dome.

Last summer, we completed raised garden beds and can’t wait to plant. Because we have battled with Canada thistle the last couple of years, we are hoping the raised beds will allow us a successful, naturally-grown garden such as we’ve enjoyed in the past.

Tatanka Wakpala was established as a demonstration project of working toward self-sufficiency. Although we have hosted open houses and work camps in previous years, this year we will host our first youth camp. Camp Ohokila (To respect or honor one’s own) will use teachings of traditional Lakota gender roles, respect and understanding gender identities to help Lakota youth gain understanding and respect for themselves and others. Other skills taught will be Lakota Handgames, Stickball, self-defense, survival skills, Lakota arts and food preservation to help youth gain confidence in their own traditions, strength and abilities. Participants will establish an okolakiciye (traditional Lakota society), and commit to supporting and helping each other learn, thrive and grow.

If you would like more information, please check out our facebook page for updates:

Welcoming New Governing Council Members

We are delighted to welcome Dr. Barbara Bettelyoun back to our Governing Council, as well as new members Linda Black Elk and HolyElk Lafferty.

Linda-Black-ElkLinda Black Elk (Catawba Nation) is an ethnobotanist specializing in teaching about culturally important plants and their uses as food and medicine. Linda works to protect food sovereignty, traditional plant knowledge, and environmental quality as an extension of the fight against hydraulic fracturing and the fossil fuels industry. She has written for numerous publications, and is the author of Watoto Unyutapi, a field guide to edible wild plants of the Dakota people. Linda is the mother to three Lakota boys and is a lecturer at Sitting Bull College in Fort Yates, North Dakota.

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HolyElk Lafferty is a fourth generation activist and member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. Her family established White Buffalo Chief Camp within the Oceti Sakowin Camp in Standing Rock, ND and held ground there until a militarized raid took place on Feb. 23, 2017. Ms. Lafferty took on a leadership role during the final stages of camp and is continuing to carry that responsibility by attempting to establish new legal precedents for all Indigenous People through the charges she carries as a result of her arrest on Feb. 1, 2017 at Last Child Camp. She is also pursuing her heart work by advocating for and empowering indigenous youth, women and men who are working to create societal and environmental change.

We also thank outgoing council members Katie Jo Bendickson and Scott Wilson for their service and wish them well as they embark on new adventures and opportunities!

Paying Rent on Indigenous Land

On January 29, 2018, John Stoesz and Waziyatawin presented at Seattle Mennonite Church and the Duwamish Longhouse & Cultural Center in Washington about the injustices perpetrated against Indigenous Peoples and Makoce Ikikcupi’s land recovery project. This allowed for a productive dialogue, both about the need for justice work and tangible steps that may be taken in the 21st century context.

The Duwamish started their own fundraising efforts in Fall 2017 to support their tribal services and the revival of their culture and traditions. As the Indigenous people of Seattle, they were never “justly compensated for their land, resources, and livelihood,” thus they initiated a “Real Rent Campaign” in which settlers can pay a small monthly rent to them as an act of solidarity. Their successful marketing campaign has recruited more than 500 monthly contributors. Comments from their contributors reflect the same sentiments as Makoce Ikikcupi’s contributors who value the opportunity to both honor the Original People and who want to make amends for gross injustices. For further information about their efforts visit: For information about John and Waziyatawin’s presentations, visit:


Ómakha Théča iyúškiŋyaŋ mitákuyapi! Ištáwičhayazaŋ wí k’a wíyawapi wikčémna núm aŋpétu kiŋ hé Ómakha Théča kiŋ škáŋ k’a aŋpétu kiŋ hé wíhinaphe k’a wíiyaye kiŋháŋ aŋpá k’a ókpaza kiŋ hená ákhidečheča. Aŋpétu kiŋ hé ȟtayétu šahdóǧaŋ aphé íš wíiyaye dúzahedaŋ wikčémna yámni iyóhakab, Thayámni wičháŋȟpi optáye wičháŋȟpi siŋté kiŋ hé itókaǧatakiya yaŋké. Maȟpíya éd siŋté wičháŋȟpi kiŋ iyótaŋ wíyakpakpa káš wíiyaye kiŋháŋ wayagphiča šni, itókaǧatakiya étuŋwaŋ kiŋháŋ ihnúnaȟ hé wadáke.

Happy New Year all my relatives! On March 20 our Dakota New Year began with equal day and night when the sun rose east and set west. At 8:00 pm, or a half hour after sunset, the Tayamni buffalo tail star was in the south. Although this is the brightest star in the sky, it was probably too soon after sunset to see at 8 pm but keep watching southward for visibility!

Ómakha Théča Iyúškiŋyaŋ (Happy New Year)!
Wí kiŋ dé Ištáwičhayazaŋ wí. Wímibe kiŋ hé ištáwičhayazaŋ ečíyapi Wičháŋȟpi optáye kiŋ Iníthipi ečíyapi kiŋ hé ikhíyedaŋ hináphe k’a hetáŋhaŋ wímibe kiŋ iníthipi wičháŋȟpi optáye kčhí maȟpíya iyópteya wiyóȟpeyatakiya iyáye.

We were in the snowy sore eyes moon of March 1. That full moon was just one month after the January 31 lunar eclipse. The full moon of sore eyes appeared near the Initipi sweat lodge stars and moved across the sky from east to west with the lodge all that night.

Wímibe kiŋ dé okó núm thokáheya éd wičháŋȟpi optáye núm Heȟáka k’a Khéya ečíyapi kiŋ hená aŋpétu wí kiŋ kčhí ówečhiŋhaŋ náziŋ. Hé héčhed wíiyaya čha wičháŋȟpi optáye núm k’úŋ hená waúŋyagphiča šni, tkhá hékta wí núm héhaŋ wíiyaya čha hená waúŋyagphiča. Ištáwičhayazaŋ wí čhokáta ȟtayétu šahdóǧaŋ aphé čha wičháŋȟpi optáye waŋ thayámni ečíyapi, hé wičháŋȟpi optáye éd wičháŋȟpi yámni kiŋ hená thayámni čhaŋkáhu héčha, k’a nakúŋ wičháŋȟpi tób hená čhúwi héčha, čhuwí wičháŋȟpi kiŋ čhaŋkáhu wičháŋȟpi kiŋ hená itókaǧatakiya optáya iyáye. Čhaŋkáhu wičháŋȟpi k’úŋ hená Wičháta wí čhokáta šákówiŋ aphé héhaŋ itókaǧatakiya optáya iyáye. Wičháŋȟpi optáye waŋ Zuzúheča ečíyapi kiŋ hé Thayámni oȟdáte yaŋké.

In the first two weeks of this moon the sun was lining up with Hehaka the Elk stars and Keya the Turtle stars, so this is why we could no longer see them at sunset as we could have just a month or two ago. But in midMarch at 8:15 pm the three buffalo backbone stars of Tayamni with their four rib stars (Orion) were crossing the south. These three would have crossed at 7:15 in mid-February. The snake Zuzuheċa was also below Tayamni.

Wíiyaye k’a wídečhana iyóko wičháŋȟpi waŋ Venus ečíyapi hé wayágphiča, šahdóǧaŋ aphé sám dúzahedaŋ wikčémna záptaŋ sám núm kiŋháŋ hé mahéd iyáye. Venús aŋpétu wíiyaye kiŋ ihákab mahéd iyáye, wí napčíwaŋka heháŋyaŋ. Ištáwičhayazaŋ wí k’a wíyawapi wikčémna núm kiŋháŋ haŋwí kiŋ wičháŋȟpi optáye Čhaŋšáša ečíyapi kiŋ hená čhatká taŋháŋ hináphe kte, Čhaŋšáša wičháŋȟpi optáye kiŋ akhéwaŋží aphé kiŋháŋ mahéd iyáye. Thokáta wí kiŋháŋ Maǧá kiŋ okádapta kiŋháŋ Aŋpétu wí k’a Čhaŋšáša wičháŋȟpi optáye kiŋ hená ówečhiŋhaŋ nážiŋ kte, Maǧáokada wí k’a wíyawapi wikčémna núm wahéhaŋyaŋ k’a nakúŋ Čhaŋnúŋpa wičháŋȟpi optáye kiŋ éd čhaŋšáša kiŋ idéye kta héčhe Wakíŋyaŋ kiŋ ahdí kta k’a zuzúheča kiŋ kiktápi kte. Hé héčhe Wétu ahí šni ečhéd čhaŋšáša kiŋ mnayáŋphiča, Čhaŋnúŋpa idéye šní ečhéd wí waŋží iyóhakab. Tkhá nína eháŋna ómakha khektópawiŋǧe yámni héhaŋ wétu ahí k’a aŋpétu wí čhaŋnúŋpa kiŋ idéye. Waŋná deháŋ wétu ahí wí waŋží iyóhakab héčhuŋ. Between the setting sun and the 3-day old crescent moon will be Venus as evening star which sets at 8:52 pm. Venus follows the sun down for 9 months. The March 20 moon will be near to the left of the Ċaŋšaša (tobacco) stars as they set around 11:00 pm. So next month when the geese lay their eggs, the sun’s fire will be lined up in the Ċaŋšaša (around April 20) as it is lighting and burning the tobacco in the Ċaŋnuŋpa in order to welcome the soon return of the Thunderers and the awakening of the snakes. This is why we can only take the Ċaŋšaša’s bark up until spring equinox time about a month before it is lit! However, about 3000 years ago the sun was already lighting the tobacco on New Year’s Spring Equinox about a month earlier than now!



By Governing Council Members Cantesuta and Towanciotawin (Francis and Barbara Bettelyoun)

Celebrating an Ongoing Commitment to Justice By Waziyatawin, Executive Director
A Project of Reparative Justice
We have 26 fruit trees, 12 nut trees, 40-60 other medicinal trees, over 50 perennial fruit shrubs, several annual and perennial gardens and natural homes for insect and bird pollinators We have a few nut trees that we planted that will mature 50 years from now. We will not see the first nuts fully mature from these trees, but our children and grandchildren will. We planted the perennials first, knowing they are important to the environment and hold the most life and they need time to mature to give medicine.

Our vision is to sustain ourselves off of the land we are caretaking. By harvesting, drying, canning, fermenting and foraging foods from this land and the land that surrounds us, we are in that 2-3 year range.

We are gifted with this ability and understand the responsibility that comes with this. So, we help others by sharing how we are doing things on the land of our relatives. We also facilitate trauma based healing circles for our adult relatives who are suffering from past childhood abuses. What Towanciotawin and I have learned is that helping Mother Earth heal has helped us heal, as well. Pilamaye yelo!

For further information, please check out our website:

Also please note our new mailing address: PO Box 21, Granite Falls, MN 56241. After years of accepting mail at a private residence that is subject to change, we decided to switch to a PO Box.
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