Sue Steinwall


The land on which Belwin Conservancy exists is the ancestral home of the Wahpekute Dakota people, original stewards of this region. We recognize that despite efforts to exterminate and diminish the Dakota, their connection to this land, water, history, and lifeways perseveres today. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

Mni Sota Makoce (Minnesota) has been home to the Dakota people for over 12,000 years. There are many places of cultural and historical significance for the Dakota throughout the region currently referred to as the Twin Cities metro area; none more so than The Bdote, the meeting place of the rivers currently referred to as the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. For the Dakota, this convergence represents the center of the Universe, Maka Cokaya Kin. It tells their birthing story. 

The Wahpekute Dakota are the original custodians of the land on which Belwin Conservancy operates. Connection and relationship with the land and water throughout Mni Sota Makoce are central to the Dakota lifeways.

Despite government efforts to exterminate and diminish them, Mni Sota Makoce is still the land of the Dakota, Anishinaabe, and many other Native nations. Their connection to this land and water continues, and they make significant contributions to the Minnesota we know today. Among other things, Minnesota’s Native people are: 

Indigenous people continue to be profoundly connected to the land, history, and future of this region. Their history is worth knowing and their lifeways are worth celebrating. To learn more about the culture of the Dakota of Mni Sota Makoce, the following resources are a great place to start.


History of the Dakota in Minnesota

The Land, Water, and Language of the Dakota, Minnesota’s First People

Why Treaties Matter


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We spark passion for wild places through conservation, education, and immersive experiences on more than 1,500 acres in Minnesota’s Saint Croix Valley.


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