Golden Valley Holds First Annual Indigenous Peoples’ Day Water Ceremony
Communities across the country took time to recognize America’s native population on Monday. At Golden Valley’s first annual water ceremony, community leaders shared traditions and called for action.
Our history goes far beyond what is written. For indigenous people, a love of the land is the heart of that history.
“This is Dakota homeland, and this land has memory and it has spirit,” said Roxanne Biidabinowke Gould, who comes from the Ojibwe people in Michigan.
Her husband, Jim Rock, is Dakota. So are her children.
A Celebration of Tradition
At a Water Ceremony at Bassett Creek on Monday, Gould, along with Rock and Bradley Blackhawk, honored the land’s memory and spirit.
“You are on Dakota homeland, so first of all, we have to honor the original people: the first peoples of this homeland,” Gould said.
The federal government recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2021. Minnesota legislation passed in 2023 recognized it as an official state holiday.
Golden Valley leaders, including members of Valley Community Presbyterian Church, began researching Native American history in 2021.
They brought those lessons into their leadership by creating a land acknowledgement. Later on, so did the city.
“You have inspired us as well at city hall to go ahead and formally have a land acknowledgement statement, which we’ve been doing a couple of years now,” said Golden Valley Mayor Shep Harris.
Community members gathered to take part in the water ceremony. CCX News, out of respect, did not record the sacred practice.
Gould said each piece of the ceremony is rooted in Ojibwe, Dakota and Ho-Chunk traditions.
“We do these things to help restore water, which is our most precious and vital sustenance on earth,” Gould said. “It is what makes earth, earth. It is what provides life on earth.”
What’s in a Name
The ceremony was also a chance to create new tradition and encourage new practices. That includes efforts to restore Bassett Creek to its original Native name: Ȟaȟa Wakpadaŋ.
Crystal Boyd, a member of Valley, is helping the church and community with the Bassett Creek Oral History project. The church, along with other regional partners, put together a video with youth that share how the Dakota name is pronounced.
“We don’t have to wait for a formal name change; We can start using the name informally today,” Boyd said.
Gould said she hopes people take two things away from the ceremony: a drive to conserve water and a desire to include indigenous voices in land decisions.
“Honor whose homeland they reside on and to become allies with indigenous people,” Gould said.
Monday’s ceremony ended with that call to work together and a closing song, honoring the land and where it came from.
Gould said she hopes this tradition continues for years to come.