In its most basic form, this road sign is simply a flat, rectangular piece of metal that sits six feet off the ground, reaches 10 feet into the sky, measures 12 feet across and weighs about 200 pounds.
One string of reflective white characters against the green background may be recognizable, but the other characters may be unfamiliar. And whether or not visitors recognize the languages written on this giant sheet of metal, the words convey more than an ordinary traffic sign. Each language, one Dakota, the other American English, is there to welcome those who travel to the Lower Sioux Indian Community.
The welcome sign is the first Dakota-English language road sign in Minnesota. Following a private ground blessing, it was unveiled to the community and guests July 29, 2019, near Morton, on Redwood County Road 24. Identical signs will be installed at the north, east and south reservation boundaries. The signs include the Dakota language homeland name “where they mark the trees red.”
Although the sign is not located on state highways or owned by the state, MnDOT is in the business of making road signs and is also committed to developing government-to-government relationships through partnerships with sovereign nations. The Lower Sioux Indian Community also partnered with Redwood County to bring the sign from an idea to a reality.
“When we come home here, we’re going to see that sign and have some self-pride,” LSIC President Robert Larsen said after the unveiling. “I’m hoping that everyone’s going to take a piece of that and just smile when they see it, and build more relationships with everyone that comes here.”
For information about the MnDOT Dakota and Ojibwe Language Signing Program, visit mndot.gov/mntribes/language-culture.