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Owámniyomni Okhódayapi awarded
$2.6 million grant from Bush Foundation
for Dakota land reclamation in Minneapolis

Grant will support transformation of land near Owámniyomni (St. Anthony Falls)

MINNEAPOLIS (April 25, 2024) — 

Owámniyomni Okhódayapi (formerly Friends of the Falls) today announced that the nonprofit has received a $2,625,000 Community Innovation grant from the Bush Foundation. The funds will be used to support the development of a new model of land reclamation for the land adjacent to Owámniyomni (St. Anthony Falls), a place of deep cultural and spiritual significance to the Dakota people on the Mississippi riverfront in Minneapolis. The organization is developing a sustainable and inclusive land ownership strategy and restoring land desecrated by colonization and industrialization.

Owámniyomni Okhódayapi is a Dakota-led organization helping to create a future where Dakota culture has a vital presence and Dakota values, such as mni wičóni (water is life), are embedded into our communal existence. To advance this vision, Owámniyomni Okhódayapi is working to transfer 5 acres of land adjacent to the Upper Lock from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to local and tribal control. Under Dakota leadership, this sacred site at the heart of the Minneapolis riverfront will become a place of healing, restoration, education and connection.

Representatives from the four Dakota Nations in Mni Sota are shaping a vision for the site centered on cultural and environmental restoration. Owámniyomni Okhódayapi is focused on elevating Dakota voices by developing site programming and design concepts that increase the visibility of Dakota people and reconnecting all communities to the river. The organization will serve in a supportive and strategic role to implement the Tribes’ ultimate vision for the Falls.

Over the next two years, this investment from the Bush Foundation will advance Owámniyomni Okhódayapi from an emerging concept through the critical milestones of transferring land ownership, pre-design work and the start of site transformation.

“Our yearslong engagement process has demonstrated that there is community support for cultural and environmental restoration at this site, restoring the flow of water, and creating a place that brings Native and non-Native people together. There is also a clear commitment to challenge the systems that have oppressed Dakota people, disregarded tribal sovereignty and inflicted generational trauma,” said Shelley Buck, president of Owámniyomni Okhódayapi. “Ownership is a complex issue at the heart of the project, and we’re at a critical point in our work. This grant from the Bush Foundation will do much more than transform a public space – it will enable us to continue this work in a good way and shape a path to healing. We are revealing the transformative change that is possible when Tribal Nations have a leadership role and when engagement and design practices center Indigenous values.”

The Bush Foundation’s Community Innovation program makes grants to support the most promising ideas that have the potential to make our region better for everyone. The program is flexible and open to organizations working on any issue area in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations in that same geography.

“We’re thrilled to support the work that Owámniyomni Okhódayapi is leading to develop a new model of land reclamation with multi-tribal control,” said Dr. Mattie DeCarlo, grantmaking officer at Bush Foundation. “This is a significant moment, as four tribal nations work collectively to establish a land ownership strategy that centers Indigenous voices and decision-making at multiple levels and spaces. The land at Owámniyomni (St. Anthony Falls) has great cultural and historical significance both to Indigenous peoples and to Minnesota state history. We believe this work will strengthen tribal sovereignty and could have transformative impact across our region.”

Owámniyomni Okhódayapi staff and board members, Bush Foundation leadership, and others celebrated the announcement at a dinner held during the Native Americans in Philanthropy 2024 Annual Conference in Minneapolis on April 24. View photos from the event here.

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About Owámniyomni Okhódayapi

Owámniyomni Okhódayapi (formerly Friends of the Falls) is a nonprofit engaging Dakota communities to transform the land adjacent to Owámniyomni, a place of deep cultural and spiritual significance on the Mississippi riverfront in Minneapolis. Owámniyomni Okhódayapi is a Dakota-led organization working to transfer the land to local control, facilitate a Native-centered community engagement process, and develop programming and design concepts for the site. For more information, visit

Media contact: Madeleine Rush, 651-214-6937, [email protected]


About Bush Foundation

The Bush Foundation works to inspire and support creative problem solving — within and across sectors — to make our region better for everyone. To do this, we invest in great ideas and the people who power them in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geography. We work through open grantmaking programs to develop, test and spread great ideas to make our region better, and to inspire, equip and connect people to lead change effectively.

Media inquiries: Kari Ruth, communications director, [email protected], 651-379-2219