Our First Village

Zani Otunwe land in Granite Falls, Minnesota where we have construction underway.

After ten years of fundraising, Makoce Ikikcupi’s Governing Council is pleased to announce that we purchased our first parcel of land in June 2019! The 21-acre parcel is located in Granite Falls, Minnesota along the beautiful Minnesota River Valley. All of our contributors have helped to make this dream a reality.

We call this place Zani Otunwe, or Village of Wellbeing. Centuries ago, this was a place where the Wahpe Oyate Leaf Peoples came back to heal themselves. It is a good place for us to heal ourselves as well.

The vision for this first recovery project includes the building of seven earthlodges to create a sustainable, off-grid, and culturally-oriented community for landless Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires) people to return to this part of our homeland. While the building of the earthlodges will take a few years, we have begun fulfilling our dream.

In preparation for building the earthlodges, we first constructed a compost outhouse and a cook area shelter. These amenities will help us through the construction phase, but they will also be used long after the earthlodges are in place. We will need to build additional compost toilets down the road, but for now, the one has worked well.

Labor Day weekend 2019 we hosted our first work party for the project. In addition to Dakota people from the local community, Seven Campfires people came from other parts of our homeland, as well. We had representation from the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, Rosebud, Standing Rock, and Spirit Lake. Thirty-three people attended that first gathering. We stripped a lot of logs and raised the central columns for three earthlodges. It was an opportunity for families to meet one another and hear about activities in other communities, and it was also an opportunity to gain hands-on earthlodge building experience while learning about Makoce Ikikcupi’s justice project.

Our long-term goal is to have many such villages in different regions of our Minisota Makoce homeland. While at this site we will have extensive gardens and fruit and nut trees, perhaps the next land purchase will be further north where we might be able to access wild-ricing lakes. If so, this will also allow our people the opportunity to resume the ancient practice of traveling from place to place with the seasons and reclaim the food ways of our ancestors.

To all our supporters who believe in the importance of reparative justice and the right of Dakota people to live within our traditional territory, nina wopida ecic’iyapi (I give you all many thanks)!

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