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>Dakota Language Camp

March 23, 2011


While I’m on the subject of culture camps, let me tell you about a day-camp highlight of our summer here in the Twin Cities: Dakota Language Camp.

Before you tune out this post with, “But that doesn’t sound relevant to me,” let me ask a question.

Does the following describe where you live?

Start with the lower two-thirds of Minnesota, roughly from Lake Mille Lacs south. Add eastern Wisconsin, northern Iowa, eastern South Dakota and south eastern North Dakota. If your street address falls within that territory, you are living on land that was, within the era of written history, the homelands of Dakota Indian people.

Do your children know this place we call “home” has a long, rich history that significantly predates Little House on the Prairie? Do they know that Dakota people are still here and didn’t vanish back with the dinosaurs? Do they have any idea that many of the place names they use every day are actually the Anglicized Dakota words? Does their play show that “Indians” means any more to them than “cowboys and Indians”?

If you’re not sure what your kids know, or if you want to take their book-learning to a whole new level, Dakota Language Camp at the historic Gideon Pond House in Bloomington is the place to invest three days of summer vacation. Don’t be misled by the camp’s title. Language is the door to any culture. This is really Dakota language and culture camp. Almost every teacher is of Dakota descent and every one of them has a passion to see Dakota language and culture revitalized. Dakota is an oral culture transmitted by living people. It simply can’t be appreciated as a chapter in Northern Lights (the Minnesota history textbook generally used in 6th grade in MN schools) or in a unit on Plains Indians (an inaccurate designation) in a home school study.

I don’t know where we parents were when they took photo at the head of this post?! I love that parents have the option to stay at camp and learn along side their children and urge you to consider signing up yourself, too, as I have. This photo also doesn’t indicate that campers are rarely sitting still! Dakota Camp is very hands-on and one of the few environments where I’ve felt that kids with Hope’s energy level are engaged and accepted.

We’ll be there! I hope you’ll consider it, too!

2011 Dakota Language Camp
A unique approach to language learning for both Dakota and non-Dakota children, the Dakota Language Camp provides an introduction to one of Minnesota’s native languages. No classrooms here – all learning is through hands-on experiences of traditional Dakota games, crafts, songs, dancing and foods.  Students will participate in setting up a tipi, then go inside to learn how it was used and furnished.  As Dakota culture is rooted in the land, many words are learned during nature walks on the beautiful trails of Pond Dakota Mission Park, situated on the Minnesota River.  Teachers with Dakota ancestry will also explain Dakota values and history.
This camp is held in the 40-acre Pond Dakota Mission Park, where the historic Pond House is located.  The house was built by Rev. Gideon Pond who, with his brother Samuel, were the first to write down the Dakota language in 1834.   
The Dakota Language camp is a joint venture of Bloomington Parks and Recreation and the Dakota Language Department of the University of Minnesota, which creates the program content and provides experienced teaching staff.
When:  June 21, 22, 23, 2011
Time:  10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Where:  Pond Dakota Mission Park
401 East 104th Street, Bloomington, MN 55420
Ages:  K-6, Parents encouraged to attend
Fee: $40 (includes supplies and lunch)
A limited number of scholarships may be available.

Reservation forms and information about scholarships are available on line here.

With thanks to Jay Ludwig and the City of Bloomington for the photo and text from the summer camp brochure.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 23, 2011 9:53 am

    >I studied Dakota for several years in College! This is soooo exciting!!Julie

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