Dakhóta Wordscapes on the River by Dakhóta Iápi Okhódakichiye, Healing Place Collaborative, Hamilton Ink Spot and Public Art Saint Paul. There prototype, Wakpá Tháŋka, unites the skills and goals of three organizations and several artists. The team aims to enlighten visitors of the Dakota language and culture that has been suppressed since the start of European colonization.


This Prototype Team has a wealth of experience that runs wide and deep. Hamilton Ink Spot has a handful of artists, designers and printers who collaboratively engaged in many projects around the twin cities. Their work can be found in this link:


The Dakhóta Wordscapes on the River team will engage the Festival’s visitors in the indigenous language of the Mississippi River valley. Few non-indigenous Minnesotans know the original Dakota words for the Mississippi River, Saint Paul, and Minnesota. The team will create large-scaled Dakhóta words stenciled onto the sidewalks of the River Balcony, from the EcoDistrict to the Union Depot Plaza. The selected words are place names for the landscape of the River Balcony and its larger context.

Below is an example of the wordscapes that you will encounter:

  • Wakpá Tháŋka -­‐ traditional name for the Mississippi -­‐ big, significant river,
  • Ȟaȟáwakpa -­‐ traditional name for the Mississippi -­‐ river of the falls
  • Imnížaska -­‐ means “white cliffs,” became a Dakota name for Saint Paul
  • Mnísota -­‐ water reflects the sky

Twelve words will be located in various locations along the river.

Microsoft Word - River Balcony Prototyping Festival RFP[2].docx

During the festival, members of the Dakota Language society will be stationed near the words to provide a handout, as well as, talk to the visitors about the words, their origins and meanings, and the status of the Dakota language. Sandwich boards will be placed near each word with English translation.

The goal of this interactive session is to broaden the visitor’s experience and knowledge of Dakota presence in Minnesota and foster a connection to the Dakota people, culture, and history. By seeing these words- visitors will realize that Saint Paul stands on original Dakota land. The history of the indigenous people needs to be known and acknowledged so that non-indigenous people will have a deeper intercultural understanding.

Simple words can open mental doors. Stories can lend pride to the present.


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