During these learning opportunities, we had many conversations about if and how it would be appropriate to honor the Dakota heritage, something that remains unknown to much of the larger community. It was our strong desire that we find appropriate, positive ways to remember the Dakota people’s history and culture, but also benefit their future by involving American Indians in the development and planning of our project.
Early on, we met Šišóka Dúta. Šišóka teaches the Dakota language at the University of Minnesota and has been a leader in the effort to preserve the Dakota language. Through our conversations with Šišóka and Ethan Neerdaels, we gained a better understanding of the oral tradition of the Dakota people. We learned that their language is foundational to Dakota culture, and that centuries of forced cultural assimilation and attacks have tragically reduced the number of native Dakota speakers. Šišóka guided our naming process for the building, and further honored us when he joined our project as an investor.