MKW to the United Nations Headquarters PFII

amplifying MKW Summit Reports & voices to International Scale
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Native Youth Water Sovereignty Program & Research

Published 2022 | Released 2023
During the summer of 2022, Mni Ki Wakan Co-Conveners partnered with Migizi, a Native youth organization located in the Twin Cities, United States, co-developing a Native youth water sovereignty program. Afterward, MKW Co-conveners, Thorne and Wakinyan LaPointe, Dr. Nicole MartinRogers, co-led its evaluation with Migizi Native youth utilizing Indigenous Youth Participatory Action Research. The Native Youth Water Sovereignty Program took place on the traditional waters of the Dakota, known as Mnisota Makoce: The Land of Misty & Foggy Waters. Otherwise known as Minnesota today, the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

During the initial planning phase, MKW Co-Conveners helped develop Indigenous water programming drawing from years of Indigenous-led water programming experience. Indigenous youth experienced and learned about water by connecting with Indigenous water knowledges, teachings, elders, and traditions. The program was founded on the belief that the traditional canoe places us back into sacred relationship with water and that water is a relative. The lessons learned from this past year of programming will help strengthen next summer's Native youth water sovereignty programming.

Coming Together For The Future of Water & All Life

MKW Summit 2022
This year, on August 16-18, 2022, the Mni Ki Wakan Summit was hosted in Rapid City, South Dakota, 55 participants from surrounding Native Nations and urban Native communities converged in exploration of this year’s theme, “Coming Together for the Future of Water & All Life.” Indigenous water resource departments, advocates, researchers, and environmental organizations were in attendance. During the MKW Summit, co-facilitators convened Indigenous Innovation Circles (ICCs) centering Indigenous water values and a culturally-responsive community conversational model. MKW Summit keynote presentations expanded on Indigenous water governance, justice, and innovation, uplifting Indigenous knowledges and worldviews.

MKW Summit Sessions included: A keynote address, Earth Law for Indigenous Water Justice, and an interactive session, titled: Youth Voices for Indigenous Water Futures by Dr. Kelsey Leonard; Dr. Crystal Tulley-Cordova (Navajo Nation Principal Hydrologist) presented on Navajo Nation water challenges, collaboration, and innovation; A keynote address by Sicangu Lakota scholar Victor Douville presenting on Oceti Sakowin Water Culture, Treaties, & Practices Today; A panel by Black Hills Clean Water Alliance on anti-uranium mining; A presentation on Tribal water resources by the Great Plains Tribal Water Alliance; an Indigenous Youth Water Futurities panel by Tokala Inanjinyo, Sicangu Youth Council, and the International Indigenous Youth Council-Oglala Chapter; and an Indigenous Youth Water Innovation presentation by Daryl Kootenay and Ariel Waskewitch.
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Mni Ki Wakan, a "Promising Solution"

Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States

Join the work of Mni Ki Wakan

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Indigenous Youth Leading the Future of Water

Our Theory of Change Report

Research Report
Mni Ki Wakan mobilizes Indigenous Peoples, youth, and elders to proactively innovate, boldly articulating the rich sovereignty of Indigenous worldviews, wisdom, and transformative visions through advocacy, education, and alliances that inform policy, governance, sustainability, and support Indigenous communities. Ultimately, to advance Indigenous water rights and water justice for all (see Mni Ki Wakan Theory of Change on p. 1).”


MKW Team
MKW Co-conveners are partners, co-hosts, and key supporters who contribute to the growing ecosystem of Mni Ki Wakan by connecting Indigenous water leaders, scholars, community members, and Indigenous-led organizations through our work. Their work ensures that the MKW Summit reaches Indigenous Peoples and youth. MKW Co-conveners also advise Mni Ki Wakan on its work having contributed to past programming, projects, efforts, and initiatives. Moreover, MKW Co-conveners have created opportunities to surface Indigenous water innovations throughout the years, and to tell the story of MKW.

MKW Partners, Sponsors, Suporters

Strengthening Indigenous Water Democracies & Representation

Strengthening Indigenous Water Democracies & Representation

There are 175 million indigenous peoples in the world.
5,000 of the world's 7,000 languages are indigenous peoples' languages.


Water Access

For every 1,000 Indigenous Peoples, 58 do not have access to indoor plumbing

1 in 10

American Indians in the United States lack access to safe tap water & basic sanitation

1 in 6

American Indians do not have access to clean drinking water.
percent of watersheds since the 19th century have been lost. The number continues to rise. Watersheds are critical for clean water and biodiversity.

Global Warming

Wherever Indigenous Peoples' land rights are secured, there are higher carbon storage rates, and lower rates of deforestation.

Native Partnership Council & Friends of the Falls

Mni Ki Wakan has allied with American Indian community leaders as a member of the Native Partnership Council. The Native Partnership Council is partnering with Friends of the Falls to guide the return the St. Anthony Falls, Wanagi Wita (Spirit Island) to the Dakota people, and to establish the adjacent land as a cultural epicenter for surrounding Native communities, and the public. St. Anthony Falls is traditionally known as Owamniyomni (Whirling Waters) to the Dakota people in Mnisota Makoce, The Land of Misty & Foggy Waters. The Native Partnership Council are working on a number of innovations to return Owamniyomni to Indigenous stewardship. Future develop aspects include: Native water sovereignty and history, youth water based programming, education, and cultural revitalization. The site will be a place for future descendants to engage with culturally, and for the broader community of Mnisota to under Dakota history, and cultivate a sustainable relationship with water.

Michelle Buchholz, a Wet’suwet’en artist who leads Cassyex Consulting who attends the Native Partnership Council community conversations illustrates the outcoms through art boards featured below. Click the arrows below on the right- and left-hand side of the screen to view her work.


Community Conversation 2
A Community Conversation to connect with Native leaders, the design team, and neighbors and discuss topics like restoration, programming, connectivity, and economic opportunity.

On March 16, Native leaders Robert Lilligren, Carrie Day Aspinwall, Sharon Day, and Wakinyan LaPointe were joined by river experts John Shepard (Hamline University, Center for Global Environmental Education) and Whitney Clark (Friends of the Mississippi River). Together, they discussed the River, its role at this place, and its relationship to people through time. We’ll consider the interconnected themes of ecology, history, rights of Water, and reciprocity with the River from an Indigenous perspective.


Friends of the Falls and the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) are partnering with the City of Minneapolis and Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board to consider the future of the Upper Lock at Owámniyomni (meaning “turbulent waters” in the Dakota language), St. Anthony Falls. The lock and damn were closed to commercial navigation in 2015, the site now presents an opportunity to create a place of healing and celebration that acknowledges the past and advances a more equitable and inclusive future.
"As Wakinyan Skye LaPointe conveyed so powerfully at the first Community Conversation, every body of water - no matter how small – can have a global impact. Water shapes the national identity of Indigenous nations, and relationships with water are inherent in Indigenous culture."
Wakinyan LaPointe
MKW Co-Lead

Owamniyomni the Mississippi River

Mni Ki Wakan Co-Leads are participanting in a partnership led by the Native Partnership Council, NACDI, and Friends of the Falls to advance community water governance.
Thorne LaPointe
Mni Ki Wakan Co-Lead