In an Isanti County newspapar article about a 2008 Wakan Wakpa (Rum River) Canoe Expedition
that provided a group of inner-city Dakota boys from Minneapolis and St. Paul an opportunity
to paddle the natural artery of their ancestors - an expedition that was sponsored by
Healthy Nations, an Eliminating Health Disparities agency of the Minnesota
Department - LeMoine LaPointe, director of the Healthy Nations Program at the Minneapolis
American Indian Center, is quoted as saying:
"Their 165-mile paddle from Mille Lacs Lake to Minneapolis commemorated many important
aspects of Dakota history and culture."
"The Rum, known for centuries as Wakan Wakpa (Holy River), is an important spiritual
and cultural artery to the Dakota who, until 1745, lived at Mille Lacs (Mde Wakan)
and considered it the center of their world."
"These young people are taking the initiative to scout the length of the river in
order for their tribe to become familiar with it, and in so doing, reclaim
their tribal legacy."
"Over thousands of years of repeated use of that river Indian people saw
something there that was good for them, and infused that into their physical
and spiritual health. Knowing and interacting with that river had an
enormous positive impact on them."
LaPointe says "it's also important to the health of Native American people that
the river be called by its original name."
"Rum is a pollutant, a destructive chemical. It's not a poison river, it's a holy river."
"That river has contributed to the development of successful tribal communities for
thousands of years. Recognizing it as Wakan Wakpa, Holy River, reattaches a
positive connotation that will be felt in mind, body and spirit in many
LaPointe says reclaiming the Rum River is important to the health
of the Dakota community.