Thousands of people attended the 51st annual Mahkato Wacipi in Mankato’s Land of Memories Park last weekend.
During the event, many Native American tribes came together to celebrate their culture and honor their ancestors and traditions. Not only did they sing and dance, but also taught younger generations about the history of the land.
Megan Heutmaker, Minnesota State University’s Director of American Indian Affairs, shared that Native American people were exiled from the state after Dakota 38+2 hanging in December of 1862 — an event that remains the largest mass execution in U.S. History.
“It’s an annual event in our community to bring together in reconciliation and remember that Dakota people here of Mankato,” said Heutmaker. “And so the work of reconciliation is going to welcome our indigenous communities back here into our state and specifically in Mankato.”
Minnesota State students provide volunteer help each year. They participate as service learning students and have an opportunity to learn about the culture along with others in the community.
Junior Taylor Janski visited the event as a service learning student. She learned about the Dakota 38 and said she felt devastated about past events.
“I mean, the 45 minutes we’ve been here, we’ve just learned a whole bunch about what the powWow is about and its history,” said Jansky. “I feel sad because of the history, which is so dark, but I also think it’s good that we’re doing this by trying to make up for what happened. Obviously, we can’t, but we’re trying our best to do something at least.”
“Our service learning is required for our class, but we could volunteer for the powWow and it was a great way to get to know another community and get to know another culture. It’s just nice to meet new people and be able to help out,” said freshman Autumn Walz.
The area dedicated to the Wacipi has allocated space for vendors and other tents. One of the tents, the Education Tent, allowed everyone to come in and listen to the Native American speaker, who taught people about the history and culture.
“I expect to learn a lot more than what I learned in school. I grew up in a really, really small town. We didn’t focus on Native American history or anything like that at all,” said junior Caitlin Krzmarzick. “We were talking over at one station. I had never learned about the Dakota 38, and that’s a big part of why powWow is here. So that’s something I learned for sure. I never knew that happened, and I feel that it’s incredibly dark.”
MSU students visited the event, too. Senior Majd Alharbi was interested in Native American history but had no opportunity to learn about it from people in this community.
“I never got to learn from actual Native American people other than what I’ve seen online. And I wanted to learn from people that have lived the experience,” said Alharbi. “I’ve learned about the wars they’ve been through; I’ve also learned about the spirits, the rituals and their culture. For the cultural dresses, many had bells around their feet. So when they’re dancing, the dance moves make the music. So it’s just really beautiful to see.”
Header photo: Thousands of people attended the annual Mahkato Wacipi in Mankato’s Land of Memories Park. (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)
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