Mankato considers ‘land acknowledgment,’ renaming parks for tribal leaders 

Council Member Mark Frost noted that the killings of white settlers by Dakota people should also be recognized if a land acknowledgment is adopted.

The "Winter Warrior" statue in Mankato, near the site of the 1862 hanging. (Lorie Shaull/Flickr)

The city of Mankato plans to officially acknowledge that its city was built on tribal land and is also considering naming some city parks after tribal leaders.

Called a “land acknowledgment,” this formality would consist of a written statement adopted by the city acknowledging that the Dakota people were the “traditional stewards of the land” and that they retain an “enduring relationship with their historic homeland,” the Mankato Free Press reported.

Dave Brave Heart, who grew up on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and Mankato’s communications director Edell Fiedler explained the significance of a land acknowledgment to the City Council.

Fiedler said that a land acknowledgement is usually a “first step by a government toward reconciliation and healing,” the Free Press reported.

Mankato was the site of a mass hanging of 38 Dakota men after the U.S.-Dakota War. Council Member Mark Frost noted that the killings of white settlers by Dakota people should also be recognized if a land acknowledgment is adopted.

“As awful as the hanging was, it’s not the whole story. It’s part of the story,” Frost said.

The statement will be written by Brave Heart and Fiedler and presented to the council at the end of the summer, with a goal of adopting the acknowledgment in September.

Several institutions in Minnesota have formally adopted a “land acknowledgment,” including the University of St. Thomas, Bemidji State University, Minnesota Opera, and the cities of Eden Prairie, Northfield, and Moorhead.

Moorhead City Council reads the land acknowledgment at the start of every meeting following the Pledge of Allegiance.

The city of Mankato is also considering naming some of its parks after tribal leaders.

Sibley Park in Mankato may be subject to renaming; Twin Cities school Henry Sibley High School of the same namesake was renamed last summer.