• By Nina Arias

Red and Green School Indigenous garden

Daniel Conn, Nathan Anderson, and several graduate students in the Master of Education program were awarded $5,000 to plant a community garden based on local Indigenous traditions. They used this money to learn more about Indigenous culture and better the community.

Alongside Annette Mennem, MSU Native American Cultural Center director, and the Knife River Indian Villages, Conn learned how to sustainably live off the land.

The North Dakota State Historical Society’s Erik Holland also contributed his knowledge and resources — including a book, “Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden.” This provided a great deal of historical and practical perspective regarding the fundamentals of Native gardening practices.

Conn also allocated money toward building a shed to store garden equipment with minimal waste and environmental impact. Holland further contributed to the community garden by donating handmade garden tools that work well for turning the dirt and pulling weeds.

With the help of many MSU students and staff throughout the summer of 2020, the fall brought a lovely harvest.

The Indigenous garden collaborated with the drive-through powwow held in September to give away produce to the attendees.

Following the harvest, Conn and staff of the Minot Fire Department decided to burn the garden in a way that honors the traditions of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation.

This Friday, April 30, Conn and staff will host an event called Aki Onizhishin (Earth is Beautiful): Garden Gathering beginning at noon. There will be food and music and Dan Henry, a citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, will share a creation story told in the Ojibwe tradition.

Plans for this year’s garden are still up for debate, but for now, the group will be planting Arikara Watermelon, Mandan Squash, Arikara Sunflower, Arikara Yellow Bean, Mandan Bride Corn, Turtle Mountain Corn, Turtle Mountain Goose Berries, Turtle Mountain Raspberries, and Turtle Mountain Wild Strawberries. Conn hopes to engage MSU and the public to join the celebration. To learn more, visit their website at www.redandgreenschool.org.

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