Mde Maka Ska Canoe Nations Gathering


The Mde Maka Ska Canoe Nations Gathering event is an opportunity for Native American youth, parents, and community to re-engage the sacredness of water or mni wakan. Mde Maka Ska or Bde Maka Ska was renamed to Lake Calhoun. Its Dakota name means White Earth Lake. For the Minneapolis-St. Paul Native American community, its proximity inspires an indigenous means to return to cultural, emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health. As water does for the finned nation, the Mde Maka Ska provides an appropriate environment in which to implement visions of healthier indigenous nations.

The Minneapolis Institute of Art has been part of this festival for 7 years, collaborating with Nawayee Center School and Native artists to provide creative activities as part of this annual community gathering.

Mia works with partners to offer creative activities at community festivals. Now you can participate in some of the activities online!

Mde Maka Ska Canoe Nations Virtual Gathering 2021

Join us to explore how “We are all Water” at Nawayee/Center School’s 13th annual Mde Maka Ska Canoe Nations Gathering. This event will be a hybrid in-person and virtual event.

Ninga Izhichige Nibi Onji / I Will Do It For The Water

Ojibwe artist and community leader Sharon M. Day has been guiding Nibi Walks as extended ceremonies to pray for the water. This year Mia is honored to host a community exhibition about these walks. Ninga Izhichige Nibi Onji / I Will Do It For The Water, on view May 6, 2021 – September 12, 2021 in the Community Commons. Click here to learn more about the exhibition.

As part of this year’s festival you are invited to follow along with Sharon to complete this Protection Exercise for the Waters We Love. Watch the video below to learn more and follow along.

Email with questions or to share your finished artworks!

Check out the Mde Maka Ska Canoe Nations Gathering Facebook Page or Phillips Indian Educators website for more inspiring festival activities about water.

More Activities

Wabaduska Thunderbird Activity

A long time ago, the Dakota people spoke of the story of Wabaduska, a giant water snake that lived in the rivers and lakes. The snake was a terrorizer of humans and the human’s only protection was the Thunderbirds who were the thunder beings in the sky. Artist Graci Horne (Sisseton Wahpeton/Hunkpapa) created a mixed media print collage activity illustrating a Dakota water story about Wabaduska and Thunderbird. Watch a how-to video and make your own versions of Wabaduska and Thunderbird.