“Our land is still under occupation. Most of our people still live in exile. Dakota people are still prevented from practicing basic freedoms (even access to sacred sites). All of the systems and institutions to which we are subject are colonial in nature and they all prevent us from living freely as Dakota people. We hold a fraction of 1% of our original land base in Minisota and our populations would die if we had to subsist on those small parcels of land. Our populations still suffer from high rates of early mortality, suicide, and violence. We suffer tremendously from Western diseases (alcoholism, cancer, diabetes). We live in a society that continues to justify our extermination and non-existence while glorifying perpetrators of genocide and rationalizing land theft. And, we have largely, silently witnessed the destruction of our homeland through extensive mining, logging, manufacturing, energy production, industrial agriculture and animal feedlots.”
Waziyatawin is a Dakota writer, teacher, and activist from the Pezihutazizi Otunwe (Yellow Medicine Village) in southwestern Minnesota. After receiving her Ph.D. in American history from Cornell University in 2000, she earned tenure and an associate professorship in the history department at Arizona State University where she taught for seven years. Waziyatawin currently holds the Indigenous Peoples Research Chair in the Indigenous Governance Program at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.