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Respecting the History: Minnesota State Government Extends a “Hand of Friendship” Towards the Upper Sioux Community

On Wednesday, The Minnesota Department of National Resources publicly announced that the Upper Sioux Agency State Park will be permanently closed to the public from February 16th, 2024. This announcement was made after the state government decided to transfer the land back to the Upper Sioux Community, a native community that has time and again, claimed the land as a historical property of the community. As days go by, the Minnesota state park gets closer and closer to being returned to its history.

The Upper Sioux Agency State Park in located in southwestern Minnesota is a state park that spans a little over two square miles. According to the DNR, the state park has a significant importance in the history of Minnesota. During the summer of 1862, the US government back peddled on its treaty obligations to provide food sources to the Dakota people (on the land that is currently the state park). The Upper Sioux Community has, throughout the years, requested the state government to return the state park land back to the community.

The Minnesota state government finalized the decision of returning the land to the community during a legislative session held last year. It is being reported that the transfer is tucked into several large bills covering multiple issues. These bills allocate approximately $6 million to facilitate the transfer in February. The allocated money can be used to buy land with recreational opportunities, in addition to covering other costs like pay for appraisals, road and bridge demolition and other engineering projects.

A Token of Peace and Friendship 

Ever since the transfer was made public, media houses and social media platforms have been buzzing with this news since this will be the first time the Minnesota state government has been willing to transfer a state park to a Native American community.

According to the decision made by the state government, once the park is closed off to the general public, the DNR will start to remove the existing park infrastructure. The transfer is expected to take place in mid-March and before this transfer, all the park infrastructure will be removed. February 15 is the last date when the Minnesota residents can access the park. The park will remain accessible to the public till 10PM.

The DNR says that it also worked with the public last summer and fall, to identify other potential investments in outdoor recreation for the residents once the park is closed off to the general public. Submitted ideas and proposals are currently being evaluated.

Past, Present, and The Future

DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen addressed the issue in a public conference, stating that the Minnesota State government is “looking forward” to returning the land back to the Upper Sioux Community, by respecting the “unique and profound history” that the state park land holds. The Minnesota Legislative approved this move by taking into consideration, the emotions, history, and sacrifices of the Native American community of Upper Sioux.

The transfer of the land is scheduled for mid-March in the year of 2024. The transfer of the land will commence once all the existing infrastructure of the park has been removed by the state authorities.

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