Minneapolis–St. Paul in Dakota and Ojibwe


Twin Cities in Dakota and Anishinaabemowin Map.png

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


1. https://www.maicnet.org/about/
2. https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/business/from-reservations-to-urban-centers-indians-struggle-to-escape-poverty-fight-to-create-positive-change/
3. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/10/native-americans-minneapolis/503441/
4. https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/minnesota-residents-seek-to-stop-lake-calhoun-name-change/



    • Does it really matter what tribe where from? We all need help from everyone where were we are. We all need need to get together to to help one another😊 prayers 🙏 .


  1. Han! Can you please remove the name “Lake Calhoun) on this map? The name restoration has now passed at both the state and federal level. Official name of the lake is Bde Maka Ska for all maps and signage.



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