The University of Minnesota observed the first of several TCF Bank Stadium-related celebrations today with the dedication of the Minnesota Tribal Nations Plaza.
The plaza, which encompasses the main western entrance to TCF Bank Stadium, is named in honor of the 11 American Indian nations in Minnesota. It features 11 18-foot-tall sky markers-one for each nations.
The soaring structures have glass panels that display tribal flags, a map, images, and historical information specific to each community. The marker for the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community includes the derivation of the name: Mde = lake; wakan = sacred or mystic; and ton = dwell at a place (short for tonwanyan). So Mdewakanton translates to "the dwellers from sacred or mystic lake." Similarly, you'll learn that Pezihutazizi Kapi, the home for the Upper Sioux Community, means "the place where they dig for yellow medicine."
The plaza was made possible by a $10 million gift to the U from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC)-the largest single private gift ever to Gopher Athletics. In addition, the SMSC donated $2.5 million toward a matching fund that will create a $5 million endowment to provide scholarships at the University, with a preference given to American Indian students.
"We feel it is very important to tell the story of American Indians in Minnesota through this plaza," said SMSC Chairman Stanley R. Crooks. "We all know that the history books haven't always told our true story so we commend the University for their efforts to include us. We hope that the Minnesota Tribal Nations Plaza will help others better appreciate the unique historic and ongoing contributions made to the state of Minnesota by the sovereign Tribal Nations who call Minnesota home."
The public ceremony today included remarks by a number of dignitaries including Crooks, SMSC vice chairman Glynn A. Crooks, President Robert Bruininks, Board of Regents chair Clyde Allen, and Vice President Nancy "Rusty" Barceló; songs by the drum groups Cozad and Mazakute; and blessings of all 11 markers. Barcelo will also acknowledge recipients of scholarships awarded through the endowment fund.
TCF Bank Stadium is funded in part by $86 million in private gifts and sponsorships. The first game at the new stadium will take place on September 12 when the Gophers host the United States Air Force Academy.
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