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2019 Great Dakota Gathering

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Join us for the 16th Annual Great Dakota Gathering on August 24-25, 2019 at Unity Park at the East end of Lake Winona in Winona, Minnesota. The Great Dakota Gathering is an annual event for families of indigenous and local populations and around the region. This year, we join in celebration of the 60th Birthday of Winona LaDuke, who will be celebrating in WInona during this weekend, as well. A special social/jingle dress dance will occur on Sunday morning.

Since its beginning, the Winona Dakota Unity Alliance (WDUA) has been involved in a number of initiatives to facilitate friendships by promoting education and reconciliation. Join us for this annual event for families of indigenous and local populations and around the region.

Great Dakota Gathering

The Winona Dakota Unity Alliance’s (WDUA) Great Dakota Gathering is unlike any other Powwow around. Enlightening, energizing, invigorating, and powerfully moving, the Great Dakota Gathering invites Native American families and descendants of settlers together to explore Native American culture, celebrate friendships, have fun together, nurture reconciliation, and enjoy the meaningful and energizing tradition of dancing. The event includes a Grand Entry Dance by talented Native American dancers, a learning tent where youngsters can explore Native American culture, games and activities for kids to have fun together and build friendships, a unity feast, Sunrise and other ceremonies, and a talk circle in which a focus for the day is introduced along with historical background and participants are invited to join in honest heartfelt discussion.

Great Dakota Gathering Events (subject to change)
Saturday Detail (tentative)

  • Welcome Fire
  • Welcome Dinner
  • Overnight Camping available

Saturday Detail (tentative)

  • Sunrise Ceremony, Continental Breakfast & Flag Raising
  • Kids Events: Relay Races, Storytelling & Scavenger Hunt
  • Native Lacrosse Games & Clinics (beginner & all ages)
  • Talk Circle
  • vIndigenous Learning Tent
  • Community Organization Exhibitors
  • Moccasin Tournament
  • Genealogy Tent
  • Dakota Language Bingo
  • 1 PM Grand Entry & Powwow
  • Soup Supper

Sunday Detail (tentative)

  • Sunrise Ceremony, Continental Breakfast & Flag Raising
  • Spiritual Service with Keynote Speaker
  • Friendship/Social Dance
  • Special Jingle Dress Dance
  • Closing Ceremony

Great Dakota Gathering Mini Gallery

* Free Camping on site.
* No RV hook-ups.
Free Tent Camping only (No hookups) at Unity Park, RV and Travel Trailer Camping available at Prairie Island Campground. Contact them for reservation and rates: 507-452-4501 Hotel & Motel Accommodations in Winona include River Port Inn, Plaza Hotel, Holiday Inn Express, and Super 8 call for reservation and room rates.

Prizes: will be awarded for dance Specials.

Unity Park
(located at east end of Lake Park)
860 Parks Avenue
Winona, MN 55987
(507) 457-8258

For More Information: Call (507) 494-8849; Email

Special Event Activities

Learning Tent
Native American artists and scholars provide Great Dakota Gathering visitors the opportunity to see and learn about important aspects of native life through high quality demonstrations and displays. This Learning Tent is set up to mirror a truer form of “Indian Education,” which is to educate as needed and within a specific context, to make sense and be meaningful. Table-top events may include beadwork, silverwork, cradleboards, quillwork, moccasins, toys & games, buffalo rib-bone rattles, dream catchers, Dakota language, children’s drums & more.

Talk Circle
The Talk Circle is the heart of the Winona Great Dakota Gathering. A moderator, called the “Circle Maker” introduces a focus for the day and provides histrorical background. The Circle Maker explains the procedure and invites discussion. As one’s turn comes up, each person may choose to talk or listen (‘pass’).

The reason this event is so important is because it directly facilitates friendships and one-to-one interactions. Descendants of people who were at war 150 years ago, are not to blame for what their ancestors did. However, when people suffer by each other’s hand, “historical trauma” is real to the descendants on all sides. The WDUA Talk Circle promotes good feelings among all participants.

Unity Feast
The Dakota as well as other native American nations are known for generous hospitality, gift-giving, and providing food for people who attend Wacipi (pow wow). In the spirit of that tradition, the Great Dakota Gathering invites indigenous populations and local residents to share in community feasting. The feast is a time to honor special guests and elders and remember ancestors in a ceremonial way.

Spiritual ceremonies are important to experience because spiritual ceremonies are at the center of traditional life. In Minnesota, Dakota ceremonies were outlawed until the Jimmy Carter years in the White House. As trust has built, people have begun to share their spiritual ceremonies with the people of Winona. Some in which we’ve been privileged to participate include: Sunrise Ceremony, Wiping of Tears, and Friendship Honoring Ceremony. In contemporary Native American life, traditional spirituality and Christianity are often blended. The WDUA Great Dakota Gathering seeks to provide authentic ceremonies in which anyone can find meaning. They are planned and guided by spiritual leader from Native American & Christian traditions.

Sunday Community Spiritual Service: Native American music, prayers, and purifying sage are blended with Christian music and liturgy. The focus varies, but always includes special ceremonies, guests, celebrations, and themes.

Great Dakota Gathering

Tags: Great Dakota Gathering, Minnesota Powwow, Minnesota Pow Wow

Mark your calendar today so you don’t miss the next Great Dakota Gathering at Unity Park at the East end of Lake Winona in Winona, MN.

Tags: Great Dakota Gathering, Minnesota Indian Pow Wow, Minnesota Pow Wow

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