NEW ULM - A 58-year-old Mountain Lake native visited New Ulm Wednesday while on a journey across southern Minnesota for an organization that supports the recovery of Dakota traditions.
John Stoesz, who now lives with his wife Marcia in Newton, Kan., is riding a 30-speed, recumbent tricycle with saddlebags and a trailer 40 to 50 miles a day across 40 Minnesota counties to raise awareness of Oyate Nipi Kte (ONK) (The People Shall Live).
The organization seeks to strengthen the Dakota nation by recovering traditional knowledge and practices including language, spirituality, ecology, tradition, life ways and develop initiatives for sustainable living.
Founded by Waziyatawin, (Angela Lynn Cavender, Ph.D), a Dakota professor, author and activist from the Upper Sioux Agency, near Granite Falls, ONK seeks to create new communities where the traditional practices of growing wild-rice, sugar-bushes, hunting, foraging, traditional gardens, traditional forms of governance and speaking Dakota as a common language.
Stoesz was Executive Director of the Mennonite Central States Committee, a $5 million a year relief, development and pace organization from September 2005 until June. Then he began preparing for his two-month, self-propelled journey.
"I love the Mennonite Central Committee organization, but I had contributed my gifts there," Stoesz said. "The time was right for me to return to Minnesota for this vitally important task."
With a Smartphone as his only high-technology gadget, Stoesz said the heat, rain, wind, mosquitoes and flies were expected during his ride. He was surprised by the large number of grasshoppers he encountered, especially in southwest Minnesota.
Stoesz began his trek in Worthington, traveled as far north as Wheaton before heading southeast, through New Ulm and back down the Minnesota River valley through Redwood Falls and New Ulm. He plans to reach the southeastern corner of Minnesota by the end of October, his tricycle and body willing.
Stoesz hopes to raise $100,000 during the trip. For more information, visit Makoce Ikikcupi (Recovering the Land) at www.oyatenipikte.org
Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org