They learned about bugs, fish, ancestry and canoeing. They communed with the Water Spirit. In the process they just had some plain old fun.
The Mde Maka Ska Gathering of Canoe Nations happens every year along the shores of Lake Calhoun, which is what Mde Maka Ska is known as today.
Through the ravages of urbanization and its attendant high-rises, concrete curbs, roads and sidewalks, and landscaping that separate city dwellers from their lakes and waterways, it is easy to forget the sacredness of mni wakan. But along the shores of Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, the water provides a continuity with the past.
“Today, when we gather at the ancestral lakes of the Dakota people, we also enjoy and appreciate the water as a community,” said Joe Rice, one of the event organizers, in a media release. “We can remember those who lived here before us, celebrate the continued vitality and spirit of indigenous people, and honor the importance of water to all communities.”
The goal is to encourage Native youth, parents and community to reconnect with the sacredness of water. The Dakota name for Lake Calhoun translates to White Earth Lake.
“For the Minneapolis-St. Paul Native American community, its proximity inspires an indigenous means to return to cultural, emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health,” Rice said. “As water does for the finned nation, the Mde Maka Ska provides an appropriate environment in which to implement visions of healthier indigenous nations.”
“The Mde Maka Ska Canoe Nations Gathering event is an genuine opportunity for Native American youth, parents, and community to re-engage the sacredness of water or mni wakan. Today, the Mde Maka Ska is called Lake Calhoun. Its Dakota name means White Earth Lake. For the Minneapolis-St. Paul Native American community, its proximity inspires an indigenous means to return to cultural, emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health. As water does for the finned nation, the Mde Maka Ska provides an appropriate environment in which to implement visions of healthier indigenous nations.”
The main goal was to pass on the knowledge of the sacredness of water, “to teach our young people how to say thank you” for the water in our midst,” the narrator says in the video below.
Underlying the day's message was another one about education, and the different ways in which Native children learn—by experience. The day provided that in abundance, as this report from the news website Minnpost.com shows.