12 Ways Observe Indigenous Peoples Day in the Twin Cities in 2023


Indigenous Peoples Day is Monday October 9, 2023.

In 2019, Governor Walz officially proclaimed the second Monday in October “Indigenous Peoples Day” in Minnesota. President Biden made a national Proclamation in 2021. Indigenous Peoples Day is an alternative to the national Christopher Columbus Day holiday based on the shared histories of native and non-native peoples in the United States. This year, Minnesotans are offered a few ways to observe the holiday — including festivals, ceremonies and tours — and several more permanent opportunities to learn more about the first people to inhabit this area. Here are ten ways to celebrate in the Twin Cities area this weekend through next weekend.

1. Honor Indigenous Culture at the Owámni Falling Water Festival

Father Hennepin Bluff Park, 420 SE Main St, Minneapolis, MN 55414
Water Works and Mill Ruins Park, 425 West River Parkway, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Saturday, October 7, 2023; 1pm-5pm
The Owámni: Falling Water Festival, a celebration of indigenous cultures of Minnesota. Traditionally held each summer, this year, the festival has been moved to the weekend leading up to Indigenous Peoples Day. Community members can participate in cultural activities, including music, art, food, and more. Drop-In. FREE.

Children observe Indigenous Peoples Day in the Twin Cities at Falling Water Festival at Father Hennepin Bluff Park in Minneapolis MN
Image courtesy of MPRB Jul 19, 2018

2. Investigate Archeology at Historic Fort Snelling

Historic Fort Snelling, 200 Tower Ave, St Paul, MN 55111
October 5-7 or 12-14, 2023; 10am-4pm
Historic Fort Snelling is open Thursdays through Saturdays for guided tours through the end of the month. The visitor center will also be open with displays. In 2021, the Minnesota Historical society shared results of ongoing archeological investigations at the fort, which included tools that show that there were ancestors of today’s Native Americans in the area making stone tools as much as 10,000 years ago. Walking tours begin on the half hour from 10am-3pm and are included with regular site admission. Adults $12; Children 5-17 $8; Kids 4 and under are FREE.

Stone tool found during 2020 archaeological investigation at Historic Fort Snelling in St. Paul, Minnesota
Stone tool that likely dates to around 1,500 to 2,000 years ago found during construction monitoring in 2020. Photo by 106 Group.

3. Celebrate the Land and Tour a Dakota Bark Lodge and Tipi

Gibbs Farm, 2097 Larpenteur Ave W, St Paul, MN 55113
Saturdays through October 21, 2023; 10am-4pm
Families can explore the site to learn more about traditional life-ways of the Dakota and investigate the native prairie, medicine garden, and traditional Dakota and pioneer crop gardens up close. Site tours that include the Dakota Bark Lodge and Tipi are offered on the hour. Learn more about Dakota history at the site here. Drop-In. Admission prices: Adults $10; Seniors; $7, Kids $5; under age 3 FREE.

Tipi at the The Gibbs Museum in St. Paul Minnesota - Visit for Indigenous Peoples Day in the Twin Cities

4. Make a DIY Indigenous Art Scavenger Hunt at the MIA

Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2400 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404
Tuesday–Sunday 10am–5pm (and until 9pm on Thursdays)
The MIA website has a fun search tool for finding specific art. This search includes Arts of the Americas that are currently on display.  These include art from indigenous populations in all states, including Alaska and Hawaii. Learn about your favorites before visiting the MIA and let the kids help make a “treasure map” to go look for them. Find and print a gallery map here. FREE

Art of the United States at the Minneapolis Institute of Art in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Make your own MIA scavenger hunt with the museum website’s search tool.

5. Delve Into the We Move and We Stay Exhibitexploring Minnesota Indigenous Communities

Science Museum of Minnesota, 120 W Kellogg Blvd, St Paul, MN 55102
Sunday-Thursday 10am-5pm; Fridays & Saturdays 9am-8pm
This permanent exhibit on Level 4 of the science museum, displays objects and artifacts of generations of Dakota and Ojibwe people. Included with museum admission.

6. Study up on Native American Culture & Indigenous History at
Our Home: Native Minnesota Exhibit

Minnesota History Center, 345 W Kellogg Blvd, St Paul, MN 55102
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 10am-4pm; Thursday 10am-8pm; Sunday 11am-4pm
The Our Home: Native Minnesota Exhibit examines Dakota and Ojibwe history through their own stories. Families can prepare ahead for this visit by delving into some of the additional materials at the link above. Get timed entry tickets here.

7. Explore the Pond Dakota Mission Park 

Pond Dakota Mission Park, 401 East 104th Street, Bloomington, MN 55420
Saturdays 1pm-4pm.

Pond Dakota Mission Park is open to the public every day and there are programs each Saturday from 1pm-4pm. Gideon and Samuel Pond served as missionaries to the Dakota people during the mid to late 1800s. Drop-In FREE.

8. Say It! Sing It! Play It! In Cherokee with Z Puppets

Franklin Library, 1314 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404
Saturday, October 14, 2023; 3pm-3:45pm

Join Z Puppets to help keep an endangered language alive. Families with kids ages 4+ can learn a little Cherokee language through fun songs and stories told by Z Puppet artists and Cherokee tribal citizens, Chris Griffith and Shari Aronson.

9. Learn About and/or Buy Some Native Art & Books Birchbark Books

Birchbark Books, 2115 West 21st Street, Minneapolis, MN 55405
Open daily 10am to 6pm
We are so lucky to have Pulitzer Prize winner, Louise Erdrich, counted among our amazing local author community. She is both a member of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa community and the owner of Birchbark Books. She recently won the Pulitzer Price for The Night Watchman, which is a really good read but not appropriate for children. Her children’s book, The Birchbark House is a favorite among students, teachers and parents. Ms. Erdrich will autograph her books ordered through her store. The bookstore considers itself a “teaching bookstore,” so don’t be afraid to ask questions about the art and request book recommendations.Birchbark Books Logo

10. Experience the Dakota Sacred Hoop Walk

University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, 3675 Arboretum Drive, Chaska, MN, 55318
Open daily 8am-8pm
The Dakota Sacred Hoop Walk is a five-stop, self-guided exhibition created by Dakota artist, Marlena Myles.  You can learn more and find an app for your cell phone here. The Arb recommends bringing earbuds or headphones for the best sound quality. Admission to the Arb is $15 for ages 16+ and FREE for children 15 and under. Online reservations are required. Indigenous peoples receive free daily admission by calling 612-301-6775.

11. Stroll through the Wodakota Walk

Caponi Art Park, 1220 Diffley Rd, Eagan, MN 55123, USA
Open Tuesday-Sunday, 9am-6pm through October 31st.
Wodakota means “Harmony and Peace with all in the Universe”. This new interactive art installation by Marlena Myles, a local Native American (Spirit Lake Dakota/Mohegan/Muscogee) artist offers five stops that weave Dakota stories into the landscape of Caponi Art Park using digital art, animation and sound.  Learn more here.


12. Make Your Own Celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day at Home

Pick some of these ideas or research your own ideas for observing Indigenous Peoples Day at home.

Family Fun: Learn about traditional Dakota games in this full color PDF from South Dakota State University.  Can you make any of these game with things you have around the house?
Read Aloud: Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians But Were Afraid to Ask. Local author Anton Treuer is a professor at Bemidji State University. His book answers 120 frequently asked questions about Native Americans and Canadian First Nation people in a down-to-earth and friendly manner. While this book was written for children, I really enjoyed it as an adult.
Family Movie Night: Teen Vogue lists this series of movies featuring Native filmmakers that are probably best watched with teens.
Meal Idea: It is not super easy to eat like the Dakota in modern Minnesota. I have borrowed The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen (by local chef Sean Sherman) from the library and, despite the fact that these are indigenous recipes, I found the ingredients a bit “exotic” for the average family – it’s not like you can pick up buffalo, elk & deer at your average grocery store. However, this recipe is a perfect fall dinner and could be adjusted to fit your grocery options. I wouldn’t be afraid to swap out some of the more difficult to find ingredients for more familiar options. I’m sure it will still be a good stew with button mushrooms and beef. However, you might try shopping the Four Sisters Farmers Market, Indigenous-centered food market held Thursdays in Phillips Neighborhood in Minneapolis (1414 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404).

Historic Sites Around the State

Learn about historic native communities at these sites around the state of Minnesota:

  1. Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post in Onamia, Minnesota, has interactive exhibits that tell the story of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  2. Pipestone National Monument was considered sacred to many Native American tribes who historically quarried red pipestone at this location.

The Proclamation by Governor Walz and by President Biden:

Find official proclamations by the Governor of Minnesota here. In it, Governor Walz recognized Indigenous People Day to “promote appreciation, tolerance, reconciliation, understanding, friendship, and continued partnerships among all of its people and the Indigenous Peoples of this land.”

President Joseph Biden’s Proclamation making Indigenous Peoples’ Day a federal holiday in 2021 can be found on WhiteHouse.gov.  The City Council in both Minneapolis and St. Paul had previously passed similar passed similar resolutions.

Events to Watch for Again in 2023

In 2019, the American Indian Magnet School (1075 Third St. E., St. Paul, MN 55106), hosted an Indigenous People’s Day Parade during the noon hour.  We hope to see this become a tradition as events begin to open back up again. Read more at MPR.

This article includes an affiliate link to Bookshop.org, an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores. Family Fun Twin Cities receives a small commission on books ordered through our link. If you want to find a specific local bookstore to support (including Birchbark Books), find them on this map and they’ll receive the full profit off your order. Otherwise, your order will contribute to an earnings pool that will be evenly distributed among independent bookstores (even those that don’t use Bookshop). 

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