Hello my relatives – it is good that you are here! It will be a great day sharing some traditional teachings with you.
In 2004, the Winona Dakota Unity Alliance created a vision with a dream of bringing the Dakota people back to their homeland and educating the people about the land in Winona. The mission statement of the Winona Dakota Unity Alliance is to “continue the conciliation process by an alliance between Winona, Minnesota, and the Dakota Nation through educational, cultural, and service projects mutually designed to bring both together in greater wholeness.” Each year, this commitment grows stronger. We are proud to have presented the 4 th Annual Youth Education Day in 2015. The village we set up was intentionally an interactive, visual experience created to show contributions of the indigenous people of this state and country. Our set-up is contrary to the educational experience teachers today think of, but it is a powerful experience.
We invite you to enjoy the experience we have created for you and when you walk away, I hope that you
acknowledge that we are all very much the same, we are also very different and we are all beautiful people with our own story to share. Acknowledging our similarities and differences is what will help us avoid placing people in categories (stereotyping).
Creating relationships is the basis of Dakota values. Indigenous cultures had no formal education like we do today. Knowledge was accumulated by absorption. Education was not something that incidentally or passively happened. It was very intentional and different from the western philosophy of teaching. Native cultures passed on their teachings with care, with strategy, and with a self-consciousness and an articulated sense of educational theory. Our ideals on education were that knowledge was sacred and sometimes even hoarded. It was given as needed and within a specific context, to be meaningful and to make sense.
At a recent conference I attended on native pedagogy, I heard a scholar remark “When you teach someone
something, you’ve robbed the person the experience of learning it.” We hope our format mirrors a truer form of “Indian Education”- education that is from a Native American perspective. It has only been in recent times that education is becoming more conscious of successful methods used to teach Native American heritage, history, and sovereignty.
The organizers of the Winona Dakota Unity alliance recognize the need for Native people to teach their own history. Our objective is to create awareness in others of the contributions of Native peoples, and perhaps start a conversation that will be long-lasting and ever-changing.
Ramona Kitto Stately, Santee Dakota
Ramona Kitto Stately is an enrolled member of the Santee Sioux Nation. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dakota Art and Culture and is a Masters of Education candidate 2013 with a focus on Teacher Leadership. She has coordinated and directed the Success for the Future grant to ISD279 Osseo Area School District. The purpose of WDUA’s Indigenous Education program is to enhance the cultural identity of the Native American child inform the Winona Community.
Ramon claims that her greatest accomplishment is being the mother of two children, Jillian and Reuben but she also is an accomplished artist who makes plains style moccasins. She believes that this is not only a traditional shoe covering, but a representation of the path we choose to walk in this life. She says “As indigenous people today, we have to walk in two worlds and be successful in both. If we use our native identity and traditional values as a foundation, we can walk forward into the future with confidence and
success.” Ramona has been the Education Director for the Winona Dakota Unity Alliance and the
Annual Gathering & Homecoming since its inception