Dakota Language Interpretations of Minnesota Places – Part 1

For centuries, Minnesota has played an important role in Dakota history and in stories of western settlement. Drop a pin anywhere on a map of Minnesota and it is likely that place has a Dakota name or was translated from the Dakota language.


As one of North America’s first sports, lacrosse was one of the most widely played games in the U.S. before European settlement. The Native game was an athletic competition of great skill, pride, and spiritual significance. Sometimes tribes played lacrosse—or stick ball—to celebrate important milestones, as a healing ritual, or to honor loved ones who passed away.

Dakota Moons

Moon cycles, or the period of time from one full moon to the next, were the basis for the Dakota calendar. These moon cycles provided the Dakota people with a guide to track time for seasonal events, such as peak harvest and hunting times. With guidance from the moons, Dakota people moved seasonally to hunt, harvest, and plant.

Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Shield

Traditionally, medicine shields were sacred objects decorated with symbolic designs that reflected the spiritual strength within the carrier. In modern times, shields represent different Native American communities with symbols specific to the values of the tribe. The seven feathers on the SMSC shield represent the Seven Council Fires, which make up the Great Sioux Nation of Dakota-Nakota-Lakota people.

Our Seven Dakota Values

The seven SMSC Dakota values are an explorative modality, teaching individuals how to live an emotionally, mentally, and spiritually healthy lifestyle. For centuries, these values have taught and guided the Dakota people to be the best they can be in any given situation. Furthermore, these values provide a cultural foundation that emphasize the importance of morally upright behavior within a greater community.