By Wakinyan LaPointe (Sicangu Lakota)
On August 16-18, 2022, Mni Ki Wakan Co-Conveners, the Black Hills Clean Water Alliance, the Thunder Valley CDC, Cultural Survival, and partners are hosting the Mni Ki Wakan (Water is Sacred) Summit at the Monument Center in Rapid City, South Dakota, United States. The Mni Ki Wakan Summit is a pillar of the Indigenous Water Decade dedicated to advancing Indigenous water rights, and Indigenous-led water justice for all. They do this through education, research, human rights advocacy, community conversations, connectivity, and alliance building. MKW Co-Conveners invite Indigenous Peoples, youth, and allies; Indigenous leaders and decision-makers; water advocates and organizations; water management departments; Indigenous water researchers, and scientists to the 2022 Mni Ki Wakan Summit.
In 2016, the Mni Ki Wakan Summit emerged from the guidance of Indigenous Peoples, youth, Dakota and Lakota elders, and allies during the Mde Maka Ska: Community Conversations (2015-present) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., an initiative dedicated to environmental water sustainability and community transformation. Afterward, MKW Co-Conveners announced Mni Ki Wakan at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), inviting the global Indigenous community. In 2017, Co-Conveners commenced the inaugural year of the Mni Ki Wakan Summit in the Land of Misty & Foggy Waters, Mnisota Makoce, otherwise known as the land of 10,000 lakes.
Each year, MKW Co-Conveners have brought interventions (human rights recommendations) from the Mni Ki Wakan Summit to the UNPFII calling for an Indigenous Water Decade in partnership with Indigenous Peoples, UN-Water, and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; to initiate a global Indigenous water rights study and coordinate an Indigenous water assembly capable of connecting the global Indigenous water map. In 2019, MKW Co-Conveners, Wakinyan LaPointe and Thorne LaPointe, Sicangu Lakota brothers, presented these MKW Summit recommendations to the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) at the Palace of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
Mni Ki Wakan seeks to connect the Indigenous water map, amplify Indigenous voices on water, and build an MKW Ecosystem that brings together the critical water work of Indigenous Peoples and youth—increasing and opening access to meaningful connections, approaches, knowledge, and creation of opportunities for the future of water.
All too often, the western water sector and broader paradigm have excluded Indigenous Peoples, the first and original water stewards in the world that continue to maintain the longest-standing water ethics and governance systems. We believe it is long overdue for Indigenous Peoples to be heard at multiple levels. We are holding the Mni Ki Wakan Summit to help amplify Indigenous voices by centering Indigenous water innovation and collaboration.
Registration is now open for the 2022 Mni Ki Wakan Summit. Vendor registration and session proposals are now open. Join the MKW Ecosystem by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2022 Mni Ki Wakan Summit hashtags are: #MKW22 #MniKiWakan #WaterIsSacred #IndigenousWaterDecade
--Wakinyan LaPointe is a Sicangu Lakota citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and Co-Convener of Mni Ki Wakan.