August 16-18, Rapid City, South Dakota, U.S. | Monument Center

Water & Indigenous Knowledge

Indigenous Water Justice

Indigenous Water Governance

Water Infrastructure

Indigenous Water Innovations

Water colonialism

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MKW Summit Agenda

Subject to change

Day 1


8-9 PM

Welcoming, Opening Blessing, & Recognitions

9-9:30 AM

Participant Networking, Self-Introductions

9:30-10:00 AM

MKW Story

10-10:30 AM

Keynote, Dr. Kelsey Leonard

10:30-12 AM

Indigenous Innovation Circles

1-2 PM

Dr. Crystal Tully-Cordova

2-3:30 PM
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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

Partner, collaborate, & volunteer

Indigenous Youth Leading the Future of Water

Our Theory of Change

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 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 transfer of the St. Anthony Falls, traditionally known as Owamni (Whirling Waters) to the Dakota people to the City of Minneapolis. MKW and the Native Partnership Council are working on a number of innovations to restore the original relationship with Owamni through the rights of water, Native water sovereignty and history, youth water based programming, and cultural revitalization. The site will be a place for future descendants to engage with culturally, and for the broader community of Mnisota to cultivate a sustainable relationship with water.

Michelle Buchholz, a Wet’suwet’en artist who leads Cassyex Consulting, has been engaged to bear witness to meetings of the Native Partnership Council and create graphic recordings that capture the Council’s stories and direction. 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 closed to commercial navigation in 2015 and now presents an opportunity to not only restore public access to the river, but 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