From: Board members of the Winona-Dakota Unity Alliance
As board members of the Winona-Dakota Unity Alliance, we urge the Commissioners to uphold the current Winona County Zoning Ordinance. The current ordinance preserves the sanctity of Dakota burial sites. Some of the proposed changes would put these burial sites in jeopardy.
In 2012, a document called the Covenant of Friendship was written collaboratively by Dakota leadership and the Board members of the Winona-Dakota Unity Alliance (WDUA). This document was later approved and adopted by the Winona City Council. An official signing of the document was done during the Spiritual Service at this year’s Dakota Gathering. The Covenant of Friendship describes the relationship the city of Winona and the WDUA have had and will continue to pursue with the Dakota Tribes in the coming years. One of the promises made in the Covenant to the Dakota people is: “The city of Winona, in cooperation with the Winona-Dakota Unity Alliance, agrees to make good faith efforts to preserve and protect the natural environment surrounding Winona, including known and discovered burial grounds, remains and archaeological sites.”
With the zoning ordinance changes proposed by Commissioner Steve Jacob, that promise would be severely compromised. Dakota burial sites are located on the slopes and bluff tops, the same locations that Commissioner Jacob would propose changes permitting homeowners to build “accessory structures” or expand 300 feet into steep slopes and ridge lines. This proposed change would remove the policies of the current zoning ordinance, which were designed to preserve and protect not only the bluffs from erosion, but the burial sites of the Dakota ancestors.
We urge citizens of Winona County to contact their County Commissioners and tell them to uphold the current zoning ordinance that maintains the integrity of our bluffs and sacred native burial sites.
Members are: William Flesch, William McNeil, Kristen Herrick, Bunny Welle, Marita Wolf, Jean Hayes, Pam Eyden, Valerie Guimaraes, Sally Cumiskey, Michael Bowler, Nick Zeller, Debbie White