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Recognizing those who came before us

It is important to introduce the Synod of Lakes and Prairies by recognizing those who lived here before the synod came to be, those who were the first stewards of the land. The first people who offered the first prayers and sang the first songs. All land has a tribal story, and so we must remember it as the home to many indigenous people. Then and today these are diverse communities of those who have never left, those forced to relocate, those who walked on a trail of tears to a different land and those who disappeared before we could ever know their names.

The synod location in Minnesota, the Dakota name is Mni Sota Makoce, is also the homeland of the Dakota people. Bdote, the place where the Minnesota River and the Mississippi River join together is a sacred site and the center of the connection the Dakota had to the land. The Dakota lived here for thousands of years. After explorers and traders arrived in the 1500’s, then settlers, soldiers and missionaries in to the 1800’s, colonial expansion dominated the use of the land and forcibly removed the Dakota from their homeland following the conflict of 1862.

Our office is located on Dakota lands that were ceded in the treaties of 1837 and 1851. The very first presbytery formed west of the Mississippi, by the Presbyterian Church, was the Dakota Presbytery established in 1844.


The Synod is located on the lands of those we know as the Dakota, the Lakota, the Nakota, the Ho-Chunk, the Anishinaabe, the Ioway, the Ponca, the Omaha, the Pawnee, the Otoe people, the Kansas people, the Mandan, the Hidatsa, the Arikara, and the Cree. Minnesota has 11 reservations, North Dakota has 5, South Dakota has 9, Wisconsin has 11, Iowa has 3 and Nebraska has 6. Citizens of other tribal nations also reside in this region of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. We honor them with a good heart.

The long history in these six states of treaty negotiations, land use conflict, immigrant settlement and federal administration continues to this day. It is fundamental to remember this history and confess the injustice, in order for us to move to healing and a more just future together.

Last reviewed and revised: 11.24.20

Other Tribal Land

Resources are available at: 

Beyond Land Acknowledgement Explainer Video >

 A 4 minute video to help develop an action plan

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