Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)



(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.

A 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 memory map.”

The Bdote Memory Map website,, 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

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 developer.

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 call Minnesota.”

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

About the Minnesota Humanities Center

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

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


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