The Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area is home to one of the largest and most tribally diverse urban American Indian populations, numbering well over 35,000. The size of the Twin Cities’ indigenous population boomed as a result of the 1956 Indian Relocation Act which defunded many reservation services and paid for relocation expenses to the cities in an attempt to assimilate the country’s indigenous peoples. Across the country, roughly 7 out of 10 American Indians now live in cities.
The native community of Minneapolis is comprised of many nations, the largest being the Dakhóta (Dakota), whose cultural history begins at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, a sacred place they call Bdóte, and the Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe), whose homelands extend northward from the city.
About 45% of Minneapolis’ American Indian population lives in poverty. The famed American Indian Movement, founded in Minneapolis in 1968, originally grew out of the concerns of the city’s urban American Indian community such as poverty, racism, police harassment, and substandard housing.
It’s with this background in mind that we present this map, The Twin Cities in Dakhóta, Anishinaabemowin, and English. Both Dakhóta and Anishinaabe cultures have a long history in this region, even before urbanization and the Indian Relocation Act, and their place names for features on the land and water are the perfect illustration of that. Restoring indigenous place names is already a hot topic in Minneapolis, where plans to drop the name Lake Calhoun (named after a pro-slavery senator) in favor of the Dakhóta name, Bde Maka Ska, has been met with controversy. A group calling itself “Save Lake Calhoun” claims that “Lake Calhoun is the first victim of what will be a tsunami of extremist name-change advocacy,” and that restoring the Dakhóta name will “Erase [the lake] from our history forever.” The irony of their objection, of course, is that this small gesture is only undoing the earlier erasure of indigenous history.
Place name knowledge contributed by Ethan Neerdaels of the Dakhóta Iápi Okhódakičhiye (Dakota Language Society) and Charlie Lippert of the Misi-zaaga’igani Anishinaabeg (Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe). Map by Jordan Engel of the Decolonial Atlas. The Twin Cities in Dakhóta, Anishinaabemowin, and English can be reused under the Decolonial Media License 0.1.
|English Toponym||Dakhóta Toponym||Dakhóta Translation||Anishinaabe Toponym||Anishinaabe Translation|
|Crow River||Khaŋǧí Wakpá||Crow River||Aandegwigwan-ziibi||Crow Wing River|
|Lake Calhoun||Bde Makhá Ska||White Earth Lake||Gaa-waabaabiganikaag-zaaga’igan||White Earth Lake|
|Lake Harriet||Bdé Umáŋ||Other Lake||Bakegamaa||Side Lake|
|Lake Minnetonka||Mní Tháŋka / Bde Iá Tháŋka||Great Water / Great Talking Lake||Misi-zaaga’igan||Grand Lake|
|Mendota||Bdóte||Confluence||Zaagiwakiing||At the Outlet-land|
|Minneapolis||Bdeóta Othúŋwe||Many Lakes City||Gakaabikaang||At the Waterfalls|
|Minnehaha Creek||Mníȟaȟa Wakpádaŋ||Waterfall Creek||Gakaabikejiwani-ziibiins||Little River of Waterfalled Stream|
|Minnehaha Falls||Mníȟaȟa||Waterfall||Gakaabikejiwan||Waterfalled Stream|
|Minnesota River||Mnísota Wakpá||Clear Water River||Ashkibagi-ziibi||Greenleaf River|
|Mississippi River||Ȟaȟáwakpa / Wakpá Tháŋka||River of the Falls / Great River||Misi-ziibi||Great River|
|Nicollet Island||Wíta Wašté||Good Island||Chi-minis||Big Island|
|Pike Island||Wíta Tháŋka||Great Island||Zaagiwaki-minis||Outlet-land Island|
|Rum River||Wakháŋ Wakpá||Spirit River||Misi-zaaga’igani-ziibi||Grand Lake’s River|
|Shakopee||Šákpe||Six [Chief Shakopee]||Zhaagobaying||At [Chief] Shakopee’s [Village]|
|St. Anthony Falls||Owámni / Owámniyomni||Falling Water||Gichi-gakaabikaa||Great Waterfalls|
|St. Croix River||Hoǧáŋ Waŋká kiŋ||Where the Fish Lies||Jiibayaatigo-ziibi||Gravemarker River|
|St. Paul||Imnížaska Othúŋwe||Little White Rock City||Ashkibagi-ziibiing||At the Greenleaf River|
|White Bear Lake||Mathó Ska Bde||White Bear Lake||Waabi-makwa-zaaga’igan||White Bear Lake|