Dakota Gathering shared message of connection


From: Brian G. Mueller
Green Party of Winona County co-chair

Many members of the community enjoyed a rejuvenating and energizing weekend at the Dakota Gathering here in Winona. What will stay with me is the message of connection — how deeply we are connected to the land, the air, the water, and each other. Dan Nanamkin, a member of the Nez Perce Nation, provided humorous and inspiring words of wisdom and a call to action for all of us to protect the earth that gives us life.

Many thanks to the Winona Dakota Unity Alliance, especially its president, Aaron Comacho, who is an active leader in our community and a member of the Potawatomi Nation.

Sadly, most of those who serve in the government of our city missed an opportunity to lead our community in building bridges and connecting us with our Indigenous brothers and sisters. None of our city leaders attended the spiritual service on Sunday, and no City Council members, other than Paul Schollmeier who volunteered during the event, showed up the entire weekend. This was the first time since the Gathering began that the mayor of Winona has not attended. This is very concerning, especially in light of the urgent need for communities to support Indigenous efforts to protect clean water and divest from banks that fund fossil fuel pipelines. It is disappointing and frustrating in light of the covenant of friendship between the Dakota people and the city of Winona.

Do we really want to add to the centuries of broken promises that have been used to oppress and marginalize our Indigenous relatives? Is this the leadership and sense of friendship we should expect from our local government? We can do so much better. Please join me in reminding our civic leaders of their responsibility as friends of the Dakota and their responsibility to represent all of the members of our community.


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