Official transfer of park land to the Upper Sioux Community signing of the deed. Governor Tim Wals, Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen

On Friday morning tribal and state officials enacted the official transfer of the state-owned land within the boundaries of Upper Sioux Agency State Park to the Upper Sioux Community (Pezihutazizi Oyate). Consistent with legislation enacted in 2023, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources closed Upper Sioux Agency State Park on February 16.

Friday’s ceremony at the Upper Sioux Community included an invocation, traditional Dakota customs, remarks from Tribal and state leaders, and the signings of the official deed and a ceremonial deed marking the historic land transfer.

“Today is a historic and powerful day for the Yellow Medicine Oyate and the State of Minnesota,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “It was an honor to be invited by the Yellow Medicine Community to be present during this historic moment, but this didn’t just happen overnight. The Governor was the first Governor to visit the Yellow Medicine Community since former Governor Sibley led a war party to them. The Governor and I are committed to continuing our strong partnerships with tribal governments. We have been working towards this day with Chairman Jensvold since we took office. I am proud to stand with the Governor at Pezihutazizi Kapi Makoce (Land Where They Dig the Yellow Medicine) to witness this historic event.”

“This land transfer is an important moment in our state’s history. Given its significance to Dakota people and the tragic events that took place there, it was inappropriate to continue to operate a park at that site,” DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen said. “Minnesota DNR has been honored and humbled to have worked with the Upper Sioux Community on the return this land to the Community. We now look forward to continuing to explore new recreation opportunities in the Minnesota River Valley.”