Water is Sacred
The Mni Ki Wakan Story is still growing as we explore concepts and initatives of Indigenous water governance and justice. As we grow, so to will our vision, strategies, and impacts. To learn more about Mni Ki Wakan, read our booklet that shares about our approaches, theory, and global story behind our work.


To Achieve Indigenous Water Justice For All.

Since the arrival of settler-colonialism, Indigenous Peoples and youth have encountered colonial violence and marginalization against their Indigenous water governances that encompass stewardship practices, cultural, and spiritual relationships with their traditional waters. Furthermore, the historical theft of traditional Indigenous waters has resulted in a contemporary colonial water paradigm and rights regime that continues to marginalize many Indigenous Peoples and youth prompting Indigenous water justice efforts and movements.

From 2014 through 2016, the LaPointe tiwahe (a Sicangu Lakota family) alongside MKW team members engaged with Indigenous communities at the grassroots level, and leaders of Indigenous movements at the UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). In the process, they learned about the deep need for an Indigenous-led water organization that utilizes co-creative, intergenerational approaches. Then in 2016, during the Mde Maka Ska Community Conversations (an Indigenous-led collective centered on water innovation) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Dakota and Lakota elders, Indigenous Peoples and youth, and allies surfaced the following goals: connecting the global Indigenous water map, Indigenous Peoples, youth, water advocates, researchers, organizations, and other relevant actors; to increase access to water governance and justice strategies, partnership opportunities, and resources. The organization would later come to be called the Mni Ki Wakan Indigenous Water Decade and co-host the MKW Summit each year.

In 2016, Mni Ki Wakan Co-conveners established the presence of the Indigenous Water Decade at the UNPFII, inviting Indigenous Peoples and youth from the UN floor to partner in its formation. Then, in 2017, co-conveners formerly announced the Mni Ki Wakan Indigenous Water Decade at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues calling on the global Indigenous community to gather for the inaugural Mni Ki Wakan Summit held in the traditional territory of the Dakota people called, Mnisota Makoce, The Land of Misty & Foggy Waters. Otherwise known as Minnesota, The Land of 10,000 Lakes. There, Indigenous Peoples and allies from South Dakota, Vancouver, British Columbia, Alberta, Canada, and Minnesota were in attendance, contributing to the formulation of the Mni Ki Wakan vision, strategies, and innovations as Indigenous Peoples and youth learned about critical Indigenous water governance and justice strategies in addressing water issues in their communities. In 2019, co-conveners provided a report on the Mni Ki Wakan Indigenous Water Decade and Summit at the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Geneva, Switzerland. Later the US Water Alliance and DigDeep would recognize MKW as a “Promising Solution” in the leading report, “Closing The Water Access Gap in the United States: A National Action Plan.”

In the Lakota ceremonial way of life, when we say, ‘Mni Ki Wakan,’ we are honoring the global power and sacredness of rain, rivers, lakes, and seas to give life (Communication with LeMoine LaPointe, Sicangu Lakota elder, 2022). Mni KI Wakan was founded on the belief that Indigenous Peoples and youth hold the global power to create a sustainable and transformative future honoring the sacredness of water and all life. The Mni Ki Wakan Indigenous Water Decade and Summit seek to achieve Indigenous water justice for all. Join us in amplifying the voices of Indigenous Peoples and youth for the future of water.