Granite Falls Theater Project

Tunka Eyapi (Speaking Stones) Intergenerational Program taught important Dakota parables and language skills to Dakota youth. Upper Sioux Community members Carolynn Schommer and Dawn Chase with assistance from Tom Ross told the stories and worked with young people to translate a story into a performance.

Granite Falls Theater Project
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See what people had to say about this project!

"I got to speak my culture and be a part of it."

"I was impressed with the kids speaking Dakota so well at such a young age."

"[I enjoyed] sharing a new way of life that the youngsters were unaware of. I feel that opened up their minds to a different world."


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See the finished script that was created:

PDF - English Language
PDF - Dakota Language

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This project was developed by Upper Sioux Community members Carolynn Schommer and Dawn Chase with assistance from Tom Ross, also of the Upper Sioux Community. The goal of this program was to create an ongoing process to record stories, revive language skills and teach cultural values. There were four elements to the program:

1.   Traditional stories were told by Dakota elders in Dakota to young community members.

2.   Dakota elders retold these traditional stories in English.

3.   Dakota elders used the stories to teach and interpret important Dakota cultural information to youth.

4.  19 young people from the Upper Sioux community learned a short parable entitled Wihmunke Wiciyanna ka Wah ca pi (Rainbow Girl and the Flowers), and performed a play based on the story written and taught by Carolynn Schommer and Dawn Chase.

The students performed Wihmunke Wiciyanna ka Wah ca pi (all had Dakota language speaking parts) on Thursday, July 29, 2010 at Prairies Edge Casino in Granite Falls.

Youth Participants: Ahmya,  Alex,  Charlise, Dawson, Ellie,  Emma, Hayden,  Isiah, Jacob,  Jayden, Jennifer,  Jordan,  Josie, Kara, Katrina,  Kyle, Merrel, Stephen, Tianna

Elder Participants: Tom Ross, Carrie Schommer

For more information: Contact Project Manager Aleah Vinick at or 651-259-3417.

Jeffers Petroglyphs
Jeffers Petroglyphs is a historic site run by the Minnesota Historical Society in nearby Comfrey, Minnesota, named for the land owner George Jeffers. It is one of the oldest exposed surfaces of Sioux quartzite in the state. In some areas, scraping left by the movement of the glaciers can still be seen. The first carvings date back approximately 5,000 years, and symbolize the lives and beliefs of the people who once lived nearby.

The Upper Sioux Community near Granite Falls, Minnesota, dates back to about 1887, when several Dakota families banished in 1862 returned to the state.  By 1938, it was recognized officially by the state government when about 746 acres that had once been a part of the Dakota reservation was returned to the Dakota people.  It is one of only four federally recognized Dakota communities in the state of Minnesota.

Learn more about Jeffers Petroglyphs in these webisode videos.

Minnesota History Magazine articles (PDF documents)

The Winona Legend

Some Sioux Legends in Pictures

Other Helpful Links

Rock Art: Jeffers Petroglyphs

Jeffers Petroglyphs Historic Site volunteer webpage

American Indian Culture Research Center Myths Page

Indian Mythology: Stories, Tales, and Legends

Myths and Legends of the Sioux, online e-book

Myths and Legends of the Great Plains e-book

Online Books About Dakota Folklore (multiple readable e-books)

Minneapolis Institute of Arts: World Myths and Legends in Art

Project Details

Date: June 2010 - July 2010
Partner(s): Dawn Chase; Isabelle Hunts Along; Pam Jensen and Tom Sanders, Jeffers Petroglyphs; Aleah Vinick, Minnesota Historical Society, Project Manager
Location: Comfrey, MN

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