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The Legacy of Survival Coming Home event in Pipestone, Minnesota, 2012As the state commemorates the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, Dakota people celebrate their present, honor their past, and forge their future.

As the commemoration calls attention to important events in U.S. history, many people in Minnesota and globally desire to learn more about the formation and original inhabitants of the United States. It is a unique opportunity for Minnesotans to learn the history of the place they call home.

Some people refer to what occurred in both Minnesota and the nation as the genocide of America's indigenous people. It is a painful subject for many.

People have different ways of learning about the past. For many, it is through oral tradition. Others seek facts in written documents. As we navigate through controversial histories, it is important to honor all ways of knowing. 

Scholars speculate that from 10 to 100 million people called North America home prior to contact with Europeans. According to the 2010 census, the United States has an American Indian population of about 5.2 million people, or 1.7% of the total U.S. population. Of this total, 2.3 million identified as Indian in combinations with other ethnicities. About 170,000 people, or about .04% of the population of the United States, identify as "Sioux."  
Minnesota is a highly diverse place. Based on the 2010 data, Minnesota has a population of about 5.4 million people, of which:
  • 102,001 identify as American Indian, of which 55,000 were solely of Indian descent
  • 247,000 are Asian
  • 250,000 are Hispanic or Latino 
  • 328,000 are Black or African American 
  • 4.6 million are of European descent
Some of the statistics related to American Indian peoples are bleak: one of the highest proportional poverty rates in the nation, low access to health care and adequate education, language loss, and high rates of illness and suicide.    
However, the stories of resilience and survival among American Indian in Minnesota and the nation are perhaps the most important. Tribes continually and increasingly assert their sovereign rights, fight for their languages, traditions, spirituality, and homeland. They also teach non-Indians about how to ally in the cause.  
As Minnesota's demographic landscape continues to change, so must our willingness to listen to others' histories with open hearts and minds.
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