‘At one time, there was no border’: Whitecap Dakota First Nation forms partnership with University of Minnesota for online course

After working together for two years, Whitecap Dakota First Nation and the University of Minnesota have agreed on a partnership that will help see Indigenous language and culture protected.

“We have ties as Dakota people, we have ties not just in Canada here but also in the United States, at one time there was no border,“ Whitecap Dakota First Nation Chief Darcy Bear said.

The university will offer the Whitecap Dakota people a local rate for its Indigenous language course. The course is taken online, giving those in Saskatchewan a way to enroll in the program and still live in their community without paying international student fees.

“We’ve got 11 members who are in their second year of studies there. We want to boost that enrollment up and continue to move this language revitalization forward,“ Bear said.

Members from the University of Minnesota were planning on making the 1,400 kilometre trip to meet with the community about this new agreement, but due to concerns about the pandemic the trip was cancelled.

Bear said the next step is getting the University of Saskatchewan to be a part of their plans to help preserve Indigenous culture, making it easier for the people of Saskatchewan to take this course.

“We’re going to work not just with the University of Minnesota, but with the University of Saskatchewan to hopefully get them on board, to see if they can recognize this program and get the certification right here in our own province,“ Bear told CTV.

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