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Tribal Nations Plaza dedicated to educating public

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PRIOR LAKE, Minn. – The smell of burning sage and sweetgrass hovered in the air as the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the University of Minnesota held a dedication ceremony for the Minnesota Tribal Nations Plaza at TCF Bank Stadium Aug. 17. The SMSC Business Council, community members, tribal leaders, university officials and invited guests attended.

The Minnesota Tribal Nations Plaza is at the main entrance to TCF Bank Stadium where the University of Minnesota’s Golden Gophers play.

The ceremony featured an opening prayer by SMSC Cultural Resources Director Leonard Wabasha in both Dakota and English. U of M Vice President Nancy “Rusty” Barcelo made opening remarks. SMSC Vice Chairman Glynn A. Crooks entered carrying an Eagle Feather Staff along with the Sisseton Wahpeton Vietnam Veterans Color Guard to open the ceremony. Flag and Victory Songs were sung by the drum group Mazakute of Santee, Neb., and the Red Lake Singers of Minneapolis, Minn. The sky markers were blessed and smudged with sage during a private ceremony earlier in the day.

SMSC Chairman Stanley R. Crooks spoke, as did chair of the University’s Board of Regents Clyde Allen and President Robert Bruininks.

SMSC donated $10 million for construction of the stadium and $2.5 million for a matching endowment fund, to provide scholarships for American Indian and other students. An additional $2 million helped pay for the plaza itself. The plaza exhibits and celebrates the rich history, presence and cultural contributions of the 11 Indian tribes in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Tribal Nations Plaza is located at the entrance on the west side of TCF Bank Stadium. The architecturally

From left, are, SMSC Vice Chairman Glynn Crooks, SMSC Chairman Stanley Crooks and SMSC Secretary/Treasurer Keith B. Anderson.

innovative design includes 11, 18-foot tall sky markers, each of which incorporates information about each of Minnesota’s 11 tribal nations. Tribal flags, images and important facts are incorporated on the soaring glass sky markers.

“We feel it is very important to tell the story of American Indians in Minnesota through this plaza. We all know that the history books haven’t always told our true story, so we commend the university for their efforts to include us,” Stanley R. Crooks said. “We hope that the Minnesota Tribal Nations Plaza will help others better appreciate the unique historic and ongoing contributions made to the state of Minnesota by the sovereign tribal nations who call Minnesota home.”

TCF Bank Stadium, which opens in the fall of 2009, was funded in part by $86 million in private gifts and sponsorships.

The 11 tribal nations in Minnesota are the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Grand Portage Band of Chippewa Indians, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, the White Earth Band of Chippewa Indians, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, the Lower Sioux Indian Community, the Prairie Island Dakota Community, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, and the Upper Sioux Community.