Minnesota Returns Land To Lower Sioux Indian Community
Above photo: Lower Sioux Agency website.
The Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) officially returned 114 acres of land to the Lower Sioux Indian Community, four years after the transfer was approved by the state legislature.
The Star Tribune reports the land transfer became official on Feb. 12, with the MNHS returning around half of its southern property along the Minnesota River back to the tribe.
“I don’t know if it’s ever happened before, where a state gave land back to a tribe,” Lower Sioux President Robert Larsen told the Tribune. “[Our ancestors] paid for this land over and over with their blood, with their lives. It’s not a sale; it’s been paid for by the ones that aren’t here anymore.”
The decision was finalized when the MNHS board cast its votes in January.
“We can try to reclaim that relationship with the land and hopefully we can continue the healing,” Larsen said. “It’s great for Indian Country in all.”
There are currently around 1,000 registered members of the Lower Sioux tribe, according to the Tribune. The tribe is currently trying to revive its traditions.
The land is referred to as Cansa’yapi, meaning “where they marked the trees red,” as it is the site where the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 began, the Tribune reports. The Lower Sioux tribe has sought to reclaim the land for 20 years.
The newspaper notes that before this transfer, the Lower Sioux Tribe’s land totaled to roughly 1,800 acres.
“There are local farmers that have more land than the tribe does,” Larsen said.
The tribe president said he hopes that this transfer will start a conversation about tribal land and shifting sacred sites to tribal management, the Tribune reports.
“This isn’t the end,” Larsen added. “We hope this is just a kick-start to showing people that it can be done.”