Posted on January 9, 2023

Hennepin County Board Acknowledges Land and Water Taken From Area Native Americans

David Chanen, Star Tribune, December 27, 2022

In the creation of the county’s document, Board Chair Marion Greene said she wanted the process to be guided by Indigenous people as much as possible.

For the first time, the Hennepin County Board adopted a historic document acknowledging land and water taken from the area’s Dakota people.

The document, a three-year effort put together by a diverse workgroup including Native American county elders, was read to the full board and approved last month. It also cites a plan for today’s county institutions to work more closely and reparatively with the Dakota people, “whose homeland we occupy.”

“[The county] can create transformative partnerships and alliances, convening conversations to explore possibilities, creating increased engagement and consultation with the Native American community, organizing events and workshops on Indigenous history, culture, and contemporary issues, and looking at the potential for developing land and water-based projects together,” the document said.

The acknowledgement is the next step in the county’s continuing community engagement with Native American populations. The county has had a designated American Indian Heritage Month for the past several years, healing circles and provided a list of nonprofits that are “trusted messengers” to improve health care outcomes.

“The acknowledgement statement is beautifully written, and that comes from deep, deep pain,” said Commissioner Irene Fernando. “Acknowledging that their land was taken and occupied is the least we can do.”


The document is a combination of Native American history and language and some practical initiatives the county will insure the acknowledge won’t just be unmeaningful words on a piece of paper.


In one section of the document, the county calls attention to the Dakota people’s ongoing connection to this special place. Today, the county institutions continue to benefit from the unfavorable treaties, military campaigns, and settler colonialism, which encouraged white newcomers to settle and colonize Native American territory.