'Okciyapi' celebrates Dakota language and brings some healing

This weekend a new piece, created by Dakota artist Angela Two Stars, will open to the public in the same space. The structure, called “Okciyapi” is designed as a gathering place and a celebration of the Dakota language.

Just yards from the iconic Spoon Bridge and Cherry, water spills out from the center of “Okciyapi.” It’s a bubbling dome of liquid about 3 feet across, surrounded by concentric rings designed to be many things: a labyrinth, somewhere for children to climb, maybe an informal language classroom. It’s a place that Two Stars, a member of the Wahpeton Sisseton Dakota, hopes will welcome visitors to come, sit, and think a while.

“The word Minnesota in Dakota is ‘Mni Sota Makoce,’“ said Two Stars: “’The land where the water reflects the sky.’”

“Okciyapi” (pronounced OH-key-YUP-ee) was inspired by Two Stars’ late grandfather Orson Bernard, a noted scholar of the Dakota language who worked for years to keep it alive.

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This whole piece is infused with the Dakota language, history and tradition. The seats are inscribed with Dakota

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