On July 3rd, 2018, Sioux Valley Dakota Nation high school graduates pulled out of SVDN on our annual Grad Trip to the United States. For several years, SVDN has taken its high school graduates on a trip through traditional Dakota Territory in the United States. Day one was a travel day as we headed south to Sturgeous, South Dakota, minutes away from our first destination, Bear Butte State Park.
Day 2 was a day filled with activities. After a quick breakfast, students and chaperones commuted to Bear Butte State Park. Upon arrival, they were joined by SVDN Health Director Marge Roscelli, Councillors Tony Tacan, Wilson Kennedy, Eleanore Elk, Jennifer Bone and Elton Taylor (who convoyed with them the entire trip). Unfortunately, Chief Vince Tacan was unable to join this year as he had prior engagements. Students received words of congratulations and future encouragement from Council, then learned the significance of Bear Butte to Dakota people. Students learned how and why to a make prayer tie, followed by some additional history and safety warnings from park staff. They then proceeded up the mountain joined by a few chaperones and some Council members, while others remained back to ensure lunch was prepared, water and other beverages were chilled and to keep our visiting area clean. After departing Bear Butte in the early afternoon, students were given the opportunity for a brief helicopter ride, then on to Crazy Horse Memorial, followed by a stay in Rapid City, SD for the second night.
Day 3 was a travel day as we convoyed from Rapid City, South Dakota to Lower Sioux, Minnesota, with a brief stop to visit the Statue “Dignity” in Chamberlain, SD.
After a quick breakfast on Day 4, students sat down with Marge Roscelli once again, and received some history of the importance of Lower Sioux and the Minnesota 1862 Uprising. Students were then taken to the nearby Lower Sioux Agency Historical Site. They were able to watch a brief documentary and learn about the site and more history. Following our visit to Lower Sioux, we continued our journey down to Mankato, MN. While in Makato, we visit the Reconciliation Park, the site of the Dakota 38 memorial. We get more teachings, more history and see an inscribed prayer from Sioux Valley’s own Eli Taylor. Students would then be treated to a visit to Valley Fair for some fun.
Day 5 would be the final and longest day of our trip as we journeyed to Historic Fort Snelling in Minneapolis, MN. There we would learn about the Dakota concentration camp at Fort Snelling, which was a result of the US-Dakota war of 1862, and a precursor to the Mankato hanging of the Dakota 38+2.
After finishing up at Fort Snelling, students were treated to a visit at the Mall of America, then on to Albertville for some discount shopping, then continue the journey home.
For some of our students, this was a once in a lifetime journey that they will always remember. It is for those students that this trip is the most important. This trip is meant as not only a reward for graduating high school, but also a means of continued education and encouragement for further education and pride in our own Dakota history.