Winona–Accepting different cultures and diversity was what  First Generation (FG) scholars from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota (SMUMN) learned when they attended the Sept. 10-11 Great Dakota Homecoming, a powwow event welcoming members of the Native American community and Winona residents.

“It is our hope for FG Scholars that they become leaders and become participants in their own community,” said Anne Conway, Literacy Specialist for the First Generation Initiative (FGI) at SMUMN. “To do that it is important for them to experience what embracing cultural diversity looks like.”

The Dakota Gathering illustrated what the coming together of many tribes looks like for FG Scholars,as FGI is a program that embraces the coming together of many different cultures. The event was a way for them to embrace and share their own culture between one another.

Aimee Boggs, first year SMUMN student and Journalism major from the Blackfeet Tribe in Browning, Mont., was excited to connect with the local Native American culture. “It was a lot different compared to the powwows from my Blackfeet tribe,” Boggs said. “It was a cultural experience because I noticed the differences and the similarities between tribes. I got to see their toys, drumsticks, and artwork. I noticed all of these cultural similarities from the information booth.”

Joseph Tadie, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at SMUMN, attended the very first Dakota Gathering that was held in the city of Winona. “ Winona, Minn., is the only town that I know of that has entered into South African style truth circles. The truth circle is a way for victimizers to dialogue with victims. Tadie said, “I am proud that Winona is the only community that I know of that has offered this opportunity to the native people who were removed from this very land.

The Winona Dakota Unity Alliance has been involved with the annual powwows in the city of Winona for almost 13 years. Its goal is to avoid misunderstanding between cultures.