Annual meeting reminding people that “Water is Sacred” being held in Rapid City

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Brothers Wakinyan and Thorne LaPointe first introduced the concept of the Mni Ki Wakan Summit in 2016 during a conference at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Since the first meeting of the now annual program in 2017, the event allows for Indigenous groups nationwide to discuss and propose solutions to current water crises they are experiencing. This year, the event is being held at Lacroix Hall of The Monument in Rapid City.

A full schedule for attendees involving discussions, breakout groups, and activities centered around protecting water.

“Indigenous peoples are the original water stewards in the world, so they maintain the original and longest-standing water ethics and governance systems,” Mni Ki Wakan Co-convener Wakinyan LaPointe explains. “So what we plan to do by holding the Mni Ki Wakan Summit is to give Indigenous peoples and youth a voice in the world community.”

The theme of the summit is “Coming Together for the Future of Water” – focused on collaboration among adults and youth in the Indigenous community to create open discussion about the future of water. In 2010, the United Nations recognized access to water and sanitation as a human right across the world. However, as recent as 2019, the World Health Organization reported that over 2 billion people still do not have access to safe drinking water sources.

Mni Ki WakanOnce the summit has ended, officials will gather to discuss the ideas proposed during the event to see what can be done next to create a more sustainable future for people across the world.

“We call it a summit because that is the level we need to bring it to, in terms of taking ourselves seriously. And for western systems to also take Indigenous peoples’ knowledge systems and rights seriously as well, and look at sustainable water management practice, sustainable policies.” Mni Ki Wakan Co-convener Thorne LaPointe explained. “So that is why various groups are here today under the summit to really explore that in this conversation.”

The summit runs through August 18, and will feature a selection of keynote speakers, engagement sessions and networking opportunities for all attendees. Registration can be done in-person or online here.

Meals will also be provided for all participants Tuesday and Wednesday.

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