Dakota Spirit WalkAugmented Reality public art
The Dakota Spirit Walk is a permanent augmented reality public art installation that honors, educates and connects visitors to Dakota history, culture and significance of land through the art and storytelling of Marlena Myles, Spirit Lake Dakota.
Now open at the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary.
Downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota.
The Dakota Spirit Walk
From Wakháŋ Tháŋka (Great Mystery) there came a great unifying life force that flowed in and through all things— the flowers of the plains, blowing winds, rocks, trees, birds, animals— and was the same force that had been breathed into the first man. Thus all things were kindred and brought together by the same Great Mystery. Kinship with all creatures of the earth, sky, and water is a real and active principle.
—Luther Standing Bear (Lakota chief)
Dakota Spirit Walk
Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary
The Dakota Spirit Walk leads visitors through sacred lands where they will meet the nature spirits of the Dakota people.
The Dakota Spirit Walk is a permanent site-specific digital installation that uses geolocation, audio, and 3D animation to guide users through a series of encounters overlaid upon the site of historic Dakota village of Kaposia, which is now the landscape of Saint Paul’s 27-acre Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary near the Mississippi River.
The encounters feature augmented-reality Dakota spirits—Grandmother Earth, thunder beings, water serpents, and Grandfather Stone—who share history, mischief, warnings, and wisdom. The Revelo AR app is free in Google Play and Apple app stores.
Dakota people address grandmother earth, her plants, animals and all other living beings as relatives, as part of the sacred hoop that balances the universe. We believe every object in the universe is Wakháŋ (sacred), having a spirit, life and intelligence and we are all related through the creator Wakháŋ Tháŋka (Great Mysterious Spirit).
Perfect Location: Rich History and Revitalization Efforts
Located on the trails of the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary
Address: 4th St E, St Paul, MN 55106
The Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary and connected Indian Burial Mounds Park is home to natural springs, sacred caves and ancient burial mounds. It is the perfect example of the city and community coming together to repair the damage of industry, restoring the land back to its original state while welcoming Indigenous people to lead the way. It is also a 15-minute walk from the Union Depot Greenline stop.
Prior to 1851, this was the site of the village of Kaposia, as well as being a significant sacred space to Dakota people and other Indigenous peoples.
European settlement and conflicts would eventually force that Dakota village away to the Minnesota River Valley and beyond. Decades of industrial use destroyed many of the burial mounds and sacred sites.
However, after years of neglect as an illegal dumping ground, the land was purchased by the City of Saint Paul and restored as a park in 2005. A broad coalition of conservation organizations and volunteers from across the Eastside have been working to remediate the damaged land in the years since.
Acres to explore
Regional Visitors Annually
“I just want to center my art around what people are currently doing and acknowledge Dakota people as well as the land, and [express] that we have that power to fix things that happened in the past. You know, like people always say, we can’t change the past but we can make things better in the present and in the future.”
One way is the Dakota Spirit Walk, which reimagines an indigenous Minnesota that doesn’t usually show up in history books or museums.
as public art
Augmented Reality is the perfect metaphor for Native Presence: Dakota peoples histories and stories are here, invisible at the moment to many; yet folks only need to look with new eyes at the deeper powers held here. This technology will bring that ancient knowledge into the present, for future generations to access.
The Dakota Spirit Walk is the third interactive artwork installed in Revelo AR, an app that thinks like an art lab. Says Boss: “Revelo’s mission is to function as a series of virtual ‘galleries’ in which multidisciplinary artists can experiment with an expanded toolkit of immersive technologies they wouldn’t otherwise have access to.” Stevens says co-founding Revelo is “a dynamic way for Pixel Farm’s creative team to solve challenges posed by artists in other disciplines.”
Where: Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary
How: The app, Revelo AR, is free on Google Play and Apple’s App Store.
When: Revelo AR is available now, and can be used in any weather, day or night.
Funders: Revelo, and “Dakota Spirit Walk” were made possible with support from The National Endowment for the Arts, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The City of St Paul’s Cultural Star Program, The Lowertown Future Fund of the Lowertown Redevelopment Corporation, and the Archie D. and Bertha H. Walker Foundation, and The McKnight Foundation. Revelo AR originated as a project of Motionpoems, Inc., of Minneapolis.
Marlena Myles is one of few Dakota women creating digital art, including fabric patterns, animations, and illustrations that bring modernity to indigenous history, languages, and oral traditions. Her work has been exhibited by the Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Museum of Russian Art, Red Cloud Heritage Center, and the Minnesota Museum of American Art, among many others. Myles was nominated to Revelo AR by guest curator Tricia Heuring, co-founder of Public Functionary, a multidisciplinary arts platform.
More Dakota Resources by Marlena Myles
Dakota Land maps
Here you will find two Dakota land maps which tell the past, present and future of Dakota people and language.
Audio pronunciation by Dawí, associate producer at Dakhóta iápi Okhódakičhiye. For more information visit the project page.
Dakota Nature Spirits
Here are a series of Dakota Spirits that I have illustrated in Adobe Illustrator. Each piece shares traditional knowledge that is connected to each spirit. Click the image to learn specifics.
Dakota Coloring Pages
These can be found on my free resources page. I am currently in the progress of creating a professionally printed coloring book of the Indigenous lands of the Dakota/Lakota and will expand to a Dakota coloring book of the Twin Cities.