Tuesday, August 21, 2012

One Nation Conference 8.21.12

Today's event began Bdote -- the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers-- in a traditional Dakota way.  (Those who should be there were there, when they should have been there...it started when it began...it ended when it was over.  Tobacco was given.  Stories shared.   Hearts full). 

After ceremony, several Dakota who had brought their tribal flags boarded large voyageur style canoes that seated 8+ people. They  paddled for an hour plus around Pike Island, departing from a spot near where their ancestors were boarded from the Fort Snelling concentration camp onto boats, the first of many transfers as they were shipped away from Minnesota after the US removal act of 1863. 

The list of Dakota families held in the wooden stockade

After the ceremony, I watched multi-generations boarded canoes joyously, jokingly, lightly.  A poignant contrast to what those old oak trees around Pike Island must have seen all those years ago.

We drove around to the far side of the island to greet the boaters and to catch a glimpse of the groups on their journey to the confluence.  As they paddled under the white Pike bridge, they chanted on cue "2058" for the camera man who is creating a time capsule video to open and begin show four years before the 200th anniversary commemoration in 2062.  He smiled with his eyes: "I will be 103 years old then...how old will you be Stephanie?"

 "Ah, I will be only 91...a few years younger than my Grandmother is right now.  But my son Caleb and his young Dakota friends here today, perhaps they will be here to open your time capsule and remember the perfect blue sky of today."

"Yeah!  I will only be 58..." replied my son Caleb.  "Do you think the island will look the same? I will be taller by then.  Do you think the children from today will recognize each other?"

Through Bdote (confluence) as they passed the north island tip
Proud Mammas and Pappas gingerly took their children aboard, many children on their first canoe trip.  Some children along the banks were too tiny for the life jackets.  Proud Grandmas held their flags high above the canoe.  Just enough wind kept the colors flying strong.  Distinguished elders climbed aboard.  A few wisps of clouds above.  A blue heron seemed to wink as they left the landing.  Many elders sat in the shade, nodding and talking like my relatives do on their front porches watching the young ones play.  Many colorful prayer ties blew in the breeze too. A good day.

Tonight they heard the Mankato Symphony play at Father Hennepin Park a special composition dedicated to them, then watch the "Dakota 38" movie, under a sky that only the Creator could paint.