The equation in the title came about as a way for me to remember what I was writing about. Ȟaȟa Wakpadaŋ is the Dakota name for Bassett Creek.

In 2021, Valley Community Presbyterian Church (VCPC) sought to take its land acknowledgement (LA) beyond the paper on which it was written. VCPC built upon the words of its acknowledgement with deeds, reaching out into the American Indian community to start multiple conversations. The Ȟaȟa Wakpadaŋ / Bassett Creek Oral History Project is an effort to amplify those voices that they might ring out to garner community partners to effect change.

Hennepin History Museum was fortunate enough to become the repository for this oral history project, as it may be the first of its kind – one which focusses on American Indian people in U.S. suburbs. The project’s narratives address lived experiences in the Ȟaȟa Wakpadaŋ watershed, including Golden Valley and other Minneapolis suburbs.

You may recall another Hennepin History Museum blog piece on Bassett Creek that focused on Joel Bassett and his role in the Minneapolis milling industry, as well as the problems the creek created for the city. The article was a well-researched account that touched on the history of the watershed but only from one perspective. Forgive me for this, but there are two sides to every creek. If one looks at the watershed before Joel Bassett claimed 160 acres of ceded land at the mouth of what was later named Bassett Creek, then one would find a sacred land among Dakota people.

The Ȟaȟa Wakpadaŋ / Bassett Creek Oral History Project that came out of the VCPC land acknowledgement unpacks some of the Dakota, Anishinaabe, Ho-Chunk, and other Indigenous perspectives on the land. The purpose of this blog post is to bring attention to the oral history project. I encourage you to listen to the various accounts of American Indian suburban life in the Ȟaȟa Wakpadaŋ or Bassett Creek Watershed. The project is accessible on our public-facing collections platform MN Collections. Links to individual histories below:


Native dancer in traditional attire
Photograph by Jim Elert
This photo from our digital collection was taken in June 2022 at a celebratory event for the oral history project.
  1. Sydney Beane
  2. Benjamin Blackhawk
  3. Bradley Blackhawk
  4. Eric Buffalohead
  5. Roxanne Gould
  6. Samantha Maijor
  7. Tawnya Stewart
  8. Jim Rock
  9. Grant Two Bulls
  10. Cathee Vick
  11. Debbi Williams
  12. David Wilson
  13. Diane Wilson
  14. Benjamin Yawakie

Dr. Kasey Keeler, a professor from the University of Wisconsin, conducted the interviews. Keeler, who is an enrolled tribal member of the Toulumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians and a descendent of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, grew up in Crystal. She interviewed 14 American Indian people from the West Metro whose tribal backgrounds include Dakota, Anishinaabe, Ho-Chunk, Assiniboine, Lakota, Odowa, Ponca, and Zuni.

These powerful oral histories help fill in the gaps with respect to suburban life for American Indian people in the Ȟaȟa Wakpadaŋ /Bassett Creek watershed.

The project was funded in part through the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant Program, with additional funding and support from VCPC and the University of Wisconsin Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies. Read more about the events and projects around the land acknowledgement at VCPC Land Acknowledgement webpage.

Author: Michele Pollard, HHM Archivist