Dakota Language and Culture

Mitakuye oyasin can be understood as “we are all related”.

Dakota dancers kid child native american dancing culture Childrens Museum of Southern Minnesota Mankato

A thread of Dakota culture weaves throughout.

In the spirit of recognizing our region’s first people, the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota features a thread of Dakota experiences in its exhibits, programs, and facility. Through these touchpoints, visitors will understand that Dakota culture and stories are still present amongst the people, culture, and landscape of Minnesota today.

This exhibit is great for...

understanding that Dakota language and literacy are carriers of culture and tradition.

Winter Count

Prominently displayed so visitors experience it as they first enter the gallery, this striking artwork by Fern Cloud replicates the historical winter count by Lone Dog. Fern used stone, bone, sticks, and soils to recreate the stories of a Dakota people form 1800 to 1871. Visitors enjoy recounting their family stories by drawing meaningful icons on paper. On the reverse side, visitors can view the thick, brown hide of the bison and read about the return of the bison to nearby Minneopa State Park. Appreciation for the use of this remarkable animal for warmth, tools, and food is gained through touch-and-feel activities.

Living Language

The Dakota language is found throughout our Museum. Prominently placed overhead at the Museum’s entrance, "Ded yahipi kiŋ waṡte," says welcome to visitors. And once inside, nearly every child interacts by selecting, listening, and imitating one of three Dakota greeters, thus ensuring all visitors hear and recognize the Dakota language. Even our youngest visitors can be heard repeating the words and intonation of our greeters as they come and go.

Textile Art

The textile art installation by Gwen Westerman is grounded in connectedness, history, wellness, and oral tradition. This seasonal display was inspired by, and made with, children at the Museum and is rotated as the seasons change.