Chief Arvol Looking Horse leads pipe ceremony

Chief Arvol Lookinghorse, 19th generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe, led a pipe ceremony on Pilot Knob on October 3, 2009. Chief Lookinghorse has spent his life working for religious freedom, protection of sacred sites, and cultural survival. He was aided by Sheldon Wolfchild from Lower Sioux, Chris Leith from Prairie Island, Melvin Grey Owl from Crow Creek, and Melvin Lee Houston from Santee, who all spoke about the importance of preserving Dakota sacred sites. Chief Looking Horse stated that sacred sites are the “power points, the grid,” for Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota peoples. After the ceremony there was a feast/lunch and wopida (a “thank you” giveaway) in which the speakers and visitors were honored. It was a cloudy day, but at various times the sun shone brightly on those gathered and two eagles flew overhead.

Pilot Knob, October 3, 2009, including from left to right, Sheldon Wolfchild, Chris Leith, Arvol Looking Horse, Melvin Grey Owl, and Melvin Houston. At the time the picture was taken, Melvin Houston was speaking eloquently about the effort that it had taken to prevent development on Pilot Knob and the need to do the same for other sacred places.

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A Message from Gail Lewellan and Linda Brown, Co-Chairs of PKPA, October 2009

Dear Friend of Pilot Knob/Oheyawahi,

We are filled with wonder at the accomplishments since the Pilot Knob Preservation Association was formed six years ago:

–a proposal for building 157 townhomes on the hill was defeated;

–the 25 acre development site is now open to the public and owned by the City of Mendota Heights;

–the ten-year site restoration to an oak savannah ecosystem is underway with thousands of flowers in bloom, eleven oaks and 2,000 acorns planted;

–two interpretive signs tell the story, in Dakota and English, of the unique history and sacred significance of Pilot Knob/Oheyawahi;

–an overlook that recognizes the seven council fires of Dakota people will soon be installed by the City of Mendota Heights and Great River Greening.

When Chief Lookinghorse was last on Pilot Knob, he and Chris Leith gave the hill a new name: Wotakuye Paha, the hill of all the relatives. Please join the relatives in celebration and thanksgiving for the remarkable events that you have contributed to.


Gail Lewellan and Linda Brown

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