MINNEAPOLIS -- Hennepin County is marking the start of Native American Heritage Month with a historic statement: a land and water acknowledgement.
During a county commissioner meeting on Tuesday, Board Chair Marion Greene read the statement, saying in part, "As part of our commitment to address the unresolved legacy of genocide, dispossession and colonialism, Hennepin county acknowledges the magnificent land and waterways from which our institutions benefit are located upon the cultural, spiritual and Indigenous homeland of the Dakota Oyate, the Dakota nation."
The statement, adopted unanimously, marks the start of a new commitment from Hennepin County to strengthen the relationship between the county and the Native community. Currently, 13,000 Native people live within Hennepin County.
"It's really important when doing a land acknowledgement to include action items, otherwise it's just lip service," Hennepin County American Indian Liaison Allison Waukau said.
Waukau said the first action item stemmed from a need she saw in the Native community: access to tribal flags, which are often costly and hard to find.
"It's a lot of running around so we were thinking why can't we simply have them here to lend out?" Waukau said.
On Wednesday, the county unveiled a flag lending library featuring flags from 11 sovereign nations within Minnesota.
"The flag lending library gives people an opportunity to add the gravitas that a flag adds to an event or occasion or meeting and this is one more way our library system could better serve the public," Commissioner Marion Greene said.
The county said it's a start in an effort to increase visibility, support, and collaboration between the county and Native communities.
"Representation is so important. We have a lot here we can celebrate with, connect with and support," Waukau said.
Waukau said the team is still working to introduce a toolkit with more action items including educational programs and goal setting within county departments.
Flags will be located at the Hennepin County Franklin Library, at 1314 E. Franklin Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55404.
If you're interested in checking out a flag or multiple flags, click here.
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