Mahkato Wacipi honors traditions and history

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)

Write to Amalia Sharaf at

One thought on “ Mahkato Wacipi honors traditions and history

  • danielsebold

    I got to wondering about the indigenous languages of my beloved homeland, Minnesota, as a result of this article, so I check out my most trusted source for information, Wikipedia, on the matter, and discovered, as I suspected, that you are talking about the Siouxan-Catawban Language family which stretches from Canada down through the Dakotas and Minnesota and all the way through most of Arkansas and into parts of Mississippi and skips on over to parts of Virginia and into both the Carolinas. They even have an exotic polysynthetic “sentence-word” grammar. But they are not related to the Ojibwe Language of Minnesota which is in the Algonquian Language Family of eastern North America, perhaps older. It’s hard to glean this information from Wiki, but I would guess the Algonquiens were earlier.
    Whenever I visit the land of unadulterated freedom, the USA–I find myself needing some restraint, so I head off to places like Mexico City or Guadalajara and find myself taking photos of the native peoples down there, a woman in a long dress struggling to launch her baby onto her back in Guadalajara where I lived in the eighties, a woman from the Uto Aztecan Language Family that stretches from Utah clear down to El Salvador. Then there is the very much alive Mayan Language family which you can experience in the market town of Chichicastenango in Guatemala and up into the mountains of Chiapas in Mexico where the Zapatistas are from and then way north into the Mayan Huasteca region of northern Mexico in Tampico as you head back to freedom from Mexico, if that is what you wish.
    But here is something really funky you should know since many of you are so worried about what the
    Russians are up to. The Ket Language, specifically of the Yeniseian Language Family of Central Siberia, has been proven to be related to the Na Dene Language family of North America which stretches across western Canada and on down into Oregon and California. Wikipedia mentions a well received paper in 2014 on the subject.
    So what about the Russians and their attitudes towards their native Asian peoples? Were they nicer than us multiculturalists? Well, I am no historian on the matter. Feel free to wiki it yourselves. I am sure there are some ugly things, but I would like to point out that on You Tube there is a beautiful rendition of Stravinsky’s Rite Of Spring, a lovely ballet about the Siberian native peoples dressed in their leather clothes so similar to what we think of as native American, I believe it is from the first decade of the twentieth century and was far ahead of anything ever done in North America at the time


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