When the annual Mankato Wacipi occurs Sept. 20-22 in Land of Memories Park, a practical but symbolically significant structure will likely be completed to adorn the pow wow grounds, thanks to cooperation between the city and the pow wow committee.

The circular canopy/arbor not only provides bleacher seating for 500 attendees, but its design reflects the spiritual beliefs of the Dakota people with its four quadrants done in sacred colors representing the directions that symbolize the Four Winds.

The Mahkato Wacipi Pow Wow Committee has so far raised $160,000 for the project. The structure and bleachers were purchased for nearly $98,000 with the remaining $62,000 earmarked for installation of the structure.

The city provided the planning, engineering and project management for the addition to the city park. As a result, the city is taking on the cost of unexpected foundation work that will amount to an estimated $172,000.

Although additional cost is not welcome in most projects, the extra expense is necessary to give the structure a more secure foundation in what is soggier ground these days with all of the rain and flooding. It’s important to keep the pow wow in the park because Land of Memories is a historically important place to gather for the Dakota people.

Any additional funds raised by the pow wow committee will be reimbursed to the city, which would lower the city’s cost on the project.

Mankato acting as gracious host of the pow wow is important in recognizing the history of the area. Mankato was the site of the largest mass execution in U.S. history when 38 Dakota were hanged Dec. 26, 1862, following the U.S.-Dakota Conflict. It was 110 years later that Amos Owen of the Prairie Island Sioux Community, Jim Buckley of the Mankato YMCA and local businessman Bud Lawrence organized the first pow wow in Mankato to promote healing.

Continuing the tradition of welcoming and supporting the pow wow and the visitors it attracts is an important role the city needs to keep playing. The improvements at the pow wow grounds show that support and will enrich the pow wow experience for all.

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